It’s Disability Awareness Day on Sunday 12th September 2021. The annual event, based in Warrington, has grown to become the largest voluntary led pan disability event which promotes a ‘can do’ culture focussing on what disabled people can do, which helps dispel the myths about what disabled people can’t do.
Julie Bowler, Chair of South West Cerebral Palsy (SWCP) United FC and Para Football Talent Consultant for the FA said, “Our recent Disability Football Festival was a great demonstration of ‘can do’. We saw disability teams from thirty clubs enjoying a day full of football in SWCP’s second inclusive football tournament at Green Lane Playing Fields.
“The festival was a celebration event, the first one since the pandemic began. It was fantastic to be able to reunite the teams and restart the game. Getting the players back together for the first time, after extended periods of shielding, meant not only that football had resumed but also support networks and friendships were being picked back up.
“Disability football is a great place to see what can be achieved, I am always inspired by the resilience I see in the game, with players showing such strength to overcome the challenges they face and to succeed.”
SWCP United FC welcomed 300 players to the festival on Saturday 17th July which saw Kernow Warriors win the League 1 competition, Plymouth Warriors claim the trophies in the League 2 and League 3 competitions and Wroughton FC U13’s named the winners in the U16 tournament.
Lyndon Taylor, Football Development Officer at Wiltshire FA and Wiltshire Ability Counts League Secretary said, “The Disability Football Festival this summer was a great event to reignite the game and showcase disability football. We are now delighted to keep the momentum going and announce the return of the Wiltshire Ability Counts League, which has been halted since March 2020.”
The Wiltshire Ability Counts League is a pan-disability football league which holds six central venue fixture festivals a season at 3G pitches across the County. Matches are 5-a-side and the league currently has both an u16s (12-16yrs) and a senior (16+) division. The festivals are very much about providing opportunities for all and a supportive environment for players to enjoy playing football, whilst also providing a competitive opportunity with league silverware up for grabs.
Lyndon continues, “This summer we have been inspired by a very special Paralympic Games, with athletes showing incredible resilience, commitment and passion which resulted in big success for Team GB.
“We hope to convert this inspiration to participation, so I encourage anyone wanting to find out more about entering players or teams into the Ability Counts League to please get in touch.
“Covid-19 has had a substantial impact on disability football so it is great to have the Ability Counts League back up and running this month. A few clubs were able to return to training last summer but for some players they may not have played any football at all, so we are excited to welcome them back to the game.”
Despite a few clubs suffering and not being able to return, the league is still able to go ahead with 11 teams across the two divisions with fixtures taking place at Beversbrook Sports Facility, Stanley Park Sports Ground and Swindon Town’s Foundation Park.
If you are interesting in joining the league as a team, player or committee member, please contact Lyndon.Taylor@WiltshireFA.com