YOUNG soccer stars who participated in Killarney Celtic’s brilliant Football for All project got to showcase their skills at a very high level at the weekend and they grabbed the opportunity with great enthusiasm.
The participants in the Celtic and FAI backed programme played a game at top League of Ireland venue Turner’s Cross in Cork during the half-time break in the high-profile Cork City v St Patrick’s Athletic clash on Friday night.
They received a great reception from the fans and, more importantly, they thoroughly enjoyed the occasion.
The players and their mentors were treated like royalty after the game and they got a chance to meet both sets of players, including Cork City’s top player Billy Dennehy who hails from Tralee.
The Football for All scheme was designed to get children who, for a variety of circumstances, might not normally get an opportunity to play the game. It has particular appeal for children with disabilities.
The FAI was the first sports governing body in Ireland to appoint a national coordinator with this remit and the programme has been a huge success.
Many agencies and groups recognise how football can contribute to the quality of life to so many people. The programme promotes inclusion and provides all players with the opportunity to become part of a team.
It enables more individuals to become involved, furthering the potential for the programme to reach out to those who may benefit, not only from physical exercise but regular social interaction.
The FAI now has two full-time development officers with responsibility for facilitating a clear pathway to cater for players with various disabilities.
The Football for All programme is made up of players from all groups and sporting bodies that cater for people with a disability who want to play football.