At the start of the season a link was established between Leigh and Bransford Badgers FC and Worcester Disability FC two Charter Standard Clubs in Worcestershire. The link was created through the great work of Worcestershire FA Mentors, David Milbery and Pat Lewis by organising friendly based training to help Worcester Disability FC players with tactical and communication aspects of football through the support of the L&BBFC club coaches.
One of the main objectives was to offer the Worcester Disability FC players more ‘match-time’ than just their currently bi-monthly tournaments in The Three Counties Ability Counts League by the clubs training together once per month at the Dysons Perrins 3G pitch in Malvern. The clubs provide sessions as 'mixed' teams so that the WDFC players can be supported by the L&BBFC coaches/players in working together as teams whilst enhancing the awareness and understanding of disability football in a positive environment.
Feedback from all parties has been really positive and L&BBBFC coaches have come back every month as they find the sessions both a challenge but also very enjoyable! A Variation of club officials from both teams have given some feedback as listed below.
L&BBFC Coach Matt Waller: ‘’I have not really had this type of opportunity before, so I don’t really know a lot about the disability world and how it’s integrated into what others may call ‘’normal lives’’. The challenges the players face, and the stigmas attached to certain disabilities I am quite naïve to, that said, I appreciate all people with disabilities to have a ’’normal life’’ as best they can, and I hope the sessions we have been involved with help support that. The WDFC players certainly have embraced the challenges of the game, and show a great sense of humour and desire to do well.’’
Worcestershire FA Mentor David Milbery has said ‘’ The great value is that no-one is patronised and we simply see some great adult football played in a friendly but competitive way, I observe many hours of football but this is always one of my highlights of every month’’
WDFC Head Coach Steve Redmond had shared after the January training session: ‘’It has greatly helped my players in the respect of more confidence and understanding positions and team formations whilst playing the game, either at tournaments , training sessions or against the L&BBFC coaches ..... Fitness levels have also improved! By running these sessions, this gives coaches an understanding of some of the barriers that they may come across whilst coaching players with a range of disabilities, but also the satisfaction of seeing improving results and impact’’
Watching from the side line during the first session L&BBFC’s Senior Coach, Bosko Medakovic said, ‘’I was somewhat disappointedly forced to sit this session out having injured my calf in a previous match earlier in the week, but that said, I took the opportunity to meet and chat with several parents and carers of the visiting side who had come along to watch. I quickly learned that the players involved were just as football mad as our members and that they were so grateful to L&BBFC for giving them the opportunity to extend their footballing experiences. I was told that WDFC have to travel around three counties just to be able to play against like-minded clubs, and yet for the love of the game… they are prepared to do it! This venture may only seem to offer WDFC a small token in terms of regular games and coaching on a more local basis, but it's significance to both clubs is evidently immense. For them, being given the greater chance to learn and play more structured football is all they want, and for us as a Community Club we are being given the chance for our coaches to develop their roles further, serve our wider community, and to welcome WDFC in to our regular programme of football. This is priceless!’’
At the start of March, supported by David Millbery, Welland Ladies FC will travel up to Wyre Forest Leisure centre to participate in a similar training session with Stars United FC who are part of Our Way Self Advocacy group, an organisation who support the development of young people and adults with various disabilities with breaking down barriers that may stop them getting involved in day to day activity that others may take for granted.
If you would like more information on disability and inclusion football in the Worcestershire area please contact: Jodie.firstname.lastname@example.org or click on this link: https://www.worcestershirefa.com/play/disability-football