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Match day photo.

Inclusive Football with Riverside Juniors FC

Riverside Juniors FC won the 'Disability Football Club of the Year' award in at the 2016 Derbyshire County FA awards evening. They have been running inclusive sessions since 2010 and the club's Vince Wilde explained how it all started - and why it has been so successful.

How it all started

"I had just passed my Level 1 coaching badge and was informed by the Football Association that there was a pathway for mainstream and disability football coaching, which I had not heard of before.

I thought it would be interesting and new venture to consider. I looked to see if any clubs were running inclusive sessions or were interested in starting some.

I found Riverside and talked to Sam Panzera, who was one of the coaches. He was looking to set up a session but couldn't find coaches.

Myself and Paul Haycock discussed what was needed with Sam and the club Chairman and Riverside Inclusive Football Club was born in 2010."

Disability Football Club of the Year 2016

Mick Hill, Darren Bailey and Liam Drake talk about the club's success.

Engaging with a range of players

"We offer a range of football for all, across all boundaries. If we cannot cater for a specific need we can signpost or adapt our sessions for their particular needs. We also look to help players get the most out of the sessions for themselves. We have a lot of player input into their own sessions so they help develop the sessions themselves.

One of our players, Alex, said: "it's not just about the football, it's about the friends I make at football".

We make the sessions fun and creative. As a club we try to follow FA directive using the Youth Module's 'Four Corners approach'. This covers social, psychological, physical and technical areas to give balanced sessions for all players.

Between 10 and 30 players signed up to the club and, with different abilities, players drop into sessions when they can. We have a range of players including those with learning difficulties, Cerebral Palsy, partially sighted and those with brain injuries.

We cannot cater for wheelchair users at this moment in time due to facilities and equipment, but will signpost players to the Nottingham Forest Power Chair football sessions."

Players shaking hands after a match.

Developing coaches

"Our coaches have developed their knowledge in different areas:

  • Understanding that all players react differently to a range of coaching, for example visual, using drawing aids, auditory and through demonstrations
  • Understanding the players needs, for instance they may not come for the football to a particular session but need to talk to someone they trust
  • Development through different coaching courses
  • Through having FA Mentors and having good connections with Derbyshire FA."

Developing the whole club

"The sessions have helped develop a community status for the club. It has also given the club a new outlook on finding players and are giving players who did not think they could play football a chance to try and a go.

All mainstream coaches at Riverside have somewhere to signpost and direct players with disabilities to us so that they can join in and play the sport."

Coach and players together.

Advice for other sports clubs

"I would say don't treat people with disabilities any differently; they have different abilities, that's all. People may make mistakes by saying or doing something that feels awkward, but it is the only way to learn about interaction.

Setting up a disability session is exactly the same as setting up a mainstream session, you just have to be aware of the player's needs such as medication access and personal triggers. Ask parents, carers and players for their input and knowledge of their abilities.

If anyone wanted support setting up sessions, Riverside Inclusive coaches would be more than willing to help."

Players celebrating after a tournament.

Plans for the future

"We would like to start a women's disability squad. We're also looking towards Frame Football for CP players, as we have an ex CP England keeper who is now coaching with us at Riverside."

How to get involved

Riverside FC's inclusive sessions run at West Park in Long Eaton on Thursdays from 6.30pm to 7.30pm and at Long Eaton School in the Autumn/Winter months. To find out more about the club, visit their website, call 07875 555359 or email info@rjfc.com

Find out what inclusive football clubs there are within Derbyshire on the Derbyshire FA website.

Get support as a club

There are a range of resources and help on hand for your club in your development to become an inclusive club, find them on the Derbyshire Sport website.