Local Community Football Club Supporting Down Syndrome Awareness Week
Local football club, Longfleet Youth FC, are running a Down’s Syndrome Awareness football event to celebrate Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week (18th – 24th March 2019).
The theme of the awareness campaign this year is #LeaveNoOneBehind.
The event will bring together players from Longfleet Youth FC’s DSActive Football Programme, some of the clubs mainstream team players and Parley Ability Counts players who will take part in some skills sessions, training demonstrations and football matches. The event will be held at the Specsavers County Ground at Hamworthy, and will celebrate the achievements of people with Down Syndrome.
Date: Saturday 23rd March 2019
Time: 5.30pm to 7.30pm
Everyone is invited to attend
DSActive is a programme started in 2006 by the Down’s Syndrome Association, set up with the aim to provide as many opportunities as possible for people with Down’s syndrome to live active and healthy lives. Longfleet Youth FC are helping them to achieve this aim.
Doug Statt, DSActive Sports Officer at the Down’s Syndrome Association, commented on the upcoming event:
“Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week is a huge event and it is days like this that make it so special. We are so proud of the amazing work Longfleet Youth FC do in the community and this event shows how inclusive the club is and its vital role in the lives of many people who would otherwise be struggling to access sport.”
Longfleet Youth FC’s DSActive football programme was born out of the realisation that there was a lack of provision, opportunity and facilities for people with Down’s Syndrome to participate in sporting activities in Dorset. In conjunction with DSActive & Dorset County Football Association, the programme was set-up in October 2015 and continues to flourish under the guidance and leadership of Programme Coordinator, Beverley Bowers, and the myriad of volunteer coaches and helpers, who attend each session. As a fully-inclusive club, the opportunity & benefits gained by all from this programme, are both unique, and also extremely beneficial to all involved. Through football, the programme has created a learning environment that will improve the 35 registered participant’s overall physical, social and emotional health.
Rob Amey, Inclusion Officer and Coach at Longfleet Youth FC, commented on the set up of the programme:
“The programme comes under the banner of ‘Ability Counts’ football, where the focus is always on the ability, and what the participants can achieve – not what they can’t, and the sessions attempt to offer fun, safe and structured football sessions in a familiar environment."
The structure is based around a loose framework, and is always able to be adapted to suit any given changes in circumstances (number of participants, their ages. Included in the sessions are the core basics of coaching football – the ‘four cornered module’ (psychological, physical, social and technical), and the ABC’s (agility, balance and coordination). These principles are used at all levels of youth football, and are introduced into the Longfleet DSActive sessions in the form of fun games. The sessions also offer the participants who require it, 1-2-1 support, almost always with coaches/volunteers that they are familiar & comfortable with.
Longfleet Youth FC run 3 sessions, which cater for three age ranges: Cubs: Aged 4-8, Tigers: Aged 8-16, and Lions: Adults. The Lions also have the benefit of extra training sessions at AFC Bournemouth once a fortnight. Three of the Lions players have also completed their FA Level 1 coaching football qualification, and assist with our Cubs sessions. As the session participants’ ages become lower (Cubs for example), there is much less emphasis on football, and more about the social/games aspect of the sessions. Indeed, the social side of the programme is as important – if not more so - as the physical/fitness side, both for the players and (in many cases), the parents or players support.
From a coaches perspective, the programme gives an almost completely unique opportunity to coach outside of ‘mainstream’ football, and encounter the challenges, differences and achievements, which, as a result, benefit coaches enormously. There are very few coaches at grassroots level, who have this fantastic opportunity to coach within this environment, and as a consequence, the associated benefits and insight that they can gain from it. Coaches and volunteers, can gain so much from the programme than the players themselves. It is a win-win, and Longfleet Youth FC are extremely privileged to have been given the opportunity and look forward to the successful continuation of the programme.