England Football, The Football Association’s new home for participation and the grassroots game, has launched Football Your Way, a new campaign to help disabled footballers return to the sport and reclaim the moments they have missed, as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted across the country.
The campaign is funded by Sport England as part of the tackling inequalities funding programme.
After a lengthy and challenging period away, the campaign provides a new online information hub to help support and motivate disabled people to feel confident and empowered to take part in football based activities. Whether that’s at home or in a local park, the campaign will encourage preparation for a return to the court or pitch for players, whenever they feel ready to do so. There is something for all ages and abilities on the Football Your Way hub, from skill demonstrations, to challenges and downloadable resources to suit all abilities and ages.
Over 9.4 million people in England are disabled and research from the Activity Alliance - the national charity and leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity - indicates that disabled people and people with long-term health conditions have been disproportionally affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 78% of disabled people reported feeling ‘very worried’ about the effect Covid-19 was having on their life, whilst 42% of people with a health condition reporting high levels of anxiety. Nearly half (45%) of parents say their disabled child’s physical health has declined.
With lockdown restrictions continuing to ease, 55% of disabled people want to increase their amount of physical activity. The creation of England Football’s Football Your Way campaign will provide them with easily accessible and varied resources, catering for a range of abilities and ages irrelevant of whether players play mainstream, pan-disability or impairment specific formats of the game. The campaign also hopes to inspire newcomers to the sport.
To further inspire disabled footballers to get active, England Football has also launched the 3 Step Challenge. The challenge encourages players to design their own 3 Step Challenge to help prepare for their return to the pitch, by picking an activity based around the number three. Players are asked to upload their challenges here to be in with a chance of winning an array of prizes. More information on how to get involved and inspiration for challenge ideas are available on the Football Your Way portal.
Baroness Sue Campbell, The FA’s Director of Women's Football and the organisation’s strategic lead for disability football said: "England Football recognises it has been a particularly difficult period for disabled people and many will be feeling anxious about returning to the game they love.
“As restrictions across the country lift, everyone’s individual journey back to physical activity will be different and the Football Your Way campaign has been created to offer disabled people support and guidance to return to football at their own pace and in their own circumstances.
“There’s no fixed route for how or when people should return and the campaign will provide support to those who wish to play at home, in the park or return back to a club. For those who have not played football before, the campaign will hopefully provide inspiration to begin their journey and enjoy the game’s long-term health and social benefits.”
James Kendall, The FA’s Director of Football Development said: “This past year has been some of the most challenging times not just for football, but across society. We know that grassroots football has the power to change people’s lives for the better and the Football Your Way campaign will help to encourage disabled footballers back on to the pitch and playing the game they love. There are plenty of ways for people to get involved, from taking part in challenges to learning new skills, so I’d encourage everyone to get active and give it a go whenever they feel ready to return.”
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