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Disability football: An inclusive space

Copyrights: The Scort Foundation

Disability football: An inclusive space

Scort and the Football Club Social Alliance (FCSA) strongly believe that sport and play-based activities provide a fantastic environment to shatter misconceptions around disability and promote the active inclusion of persons with disabilities beyond the football field.

It is vital that society embraces diversity and acknowledges that some of the biggest challenges and barriers to inclusion of persons with disabilities is formed by misconceptions and a lack of opportunities. Scort and the Football Club Social Alliance (FCSA) strongly believe that sport and play-based activities provide a fantastic environment to shatter these misconceptions and promote the active inclusion of persons with disabilities beyond the football field.

Due to limited points of contact as well as a lack of awareness and education, society often still underestimates abilities of persons with disabilities, leaving them excluded from activities, including sports.

Creating opportunities

To address this challenge and promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in sports and play-based activities, the FCSA has been delivering a disability football programme in Central Europe since 2007. The programme is two-fold:

During the first part of the programme, the Tandem Young Coach Education, a person with a disability (called “Young Coach”) and a person without a disability (called “Tandem Partner”) work together to become disability football coaches. For one week, the Tandem work together and learn from each other through various theoretical and practical workshops. At the end of the week, they return to their home clubs as certified coaches and will get involved in training the club’s disability football team.

The Special Youth Camp – the second part of the programme – is an annual football and adventure camp for children and youth with physical and/or intellectual disabilities from various clubs across Europe. While the participants can enjoy a week full of new and challenging experiences, the previously trained Tandems get the opportunity to put their acquired skills into practice: as coaches, they prepare and carry out the daily football trainings, including festivals and tournaments, and take on additional responsibilities off the pitch.

Mutual learning and development

Built upon this structure, the FCSA’s disability football programme is designed to use football to create spaces which promote interaction, inclusion, and mutual learning. By bringing persons with and without disabilities together, prejudices and misconceptions can be deconstructed, while the Young Coaches’ and camp participants’ personal development can be fostered.

During the Tandem Education, the Young Coaches are gradually given more responsibility as well as the opportunity to develop and trust themselves. This process helps to improve their self-esteem and empowers them to not only become coaches in disability football, but carry over these skills and experiences into their lives beyond the pitch:

“Through the Special Youth Camp and the Young Coach training I have become a much more open-minded person and my self-confidence has grown. Therefore, I want to found my own team at my school and lead it alone, without any help,” says Patrick, a Young Coach.

“…the Young Coaches can develop their personality and appear with much more self-confidence in their life… [This] is not only shown on the football field, but also at school or in their working environment...” says Tim Müller, the instructor of Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Simultaneously, their Tandem Partners are introduced to disability football and receive insights into new training methods which allow them to adapt their existing coaching skills to the children’s needs and abilities. As a result of working alongside a Young Coach, they learn to recognise the potential of persons with disabilities:

“Although [the Young Coach] gives the impression of being withdrawn, he has a lot of ideas. He includes them more and more [in training]. He has more capabilities than one thinks. Actually, this is true for all of the participants here. They have many talents,” says David, a Tandem Partner.

Creating role models

The opportunities provided at the Special Youth Camp and the Tandem Education encourage positive interactions which push the participants to challenge themselves and often exceed their own expectations. The coaches which emerge from the Tandem Education not only develop as individuals, but become role models for other children with disabilities who look up to them and wish to become coaches too.

So far, over 150 Young Coaches with and without disabilities have been trained as disability football coaches in Central Europe. Their new coaching skills benefit more than 900 children with disabilities who attend the Young Coaches’ training sessions. Such inclusive training sessions are intended to function as a basis for a more inclusive society for persons with disabilities.

The Scort Foundation is a non-profit, politically and religiously independent operating foundation based in Basel, Switzerland. Scort initiated the Football Club Social Alliance in 2007 and manages the development and administration of the partnership programmes.


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Christine Fluri


Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 18:04

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