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Free v Free in Kent.
Many thanks to all those at Brogdale CIC Youth Club for helping me in finishing off the NCFA Free v Free week with another fun football event for youngsters with learning difficulties and disabilities.
The plan was simple, get the youngsters out onto the grass to join in with some fun football, which ended in a penalty shoot.
A host of youngster split up into teams and played against each other until it began to get dark, although a few of the youngsters had to leave before the end.
Some of those taking part were slightly hesitant at first as they hadn’t had many opportunities to play football previously, and although one young girl really wasn’t keen to play on the pitch, we included her by giving her the task of taking the throw ins and free kicks and by the end of the session the youngster was joining in by having a kick of the ball as well, and then scored a goal in the penalty shoot out, which gave her a real thrill. Whatever the children’s abilities the inclusion of all the youngsters in playing together is what the game of football is really all about, without restrictions or hard and fast rules to abide by.
At the session’s end the youngsters were presented with a Free v Free T-shirt and a certificate for taking part.
Kit donation to NCFA.
Margot Eastwell of 5-A-Side-Fun, a special needs club based in Ashford, Kent, has kindly donated the clubs previous kit to the National Children’s Football Alliance for use in one of the International Children’s Football Alliance charities programme, Slum Soccer in India. The 5-A-Side-Fun Club’s previous kit was supplied by local side Ashford Town.
Margot has been involved with running special needs football since her son Thomas, who plays for 5-A-Side-Fun, first became interested in playing football. The club is self funded without any affiliation to the county FA, the players taking part, assisted in their football by club coach Mike, keeping to the ethos of everyone plays for fun on equal terms, which Margot believes would be difficult to achieve by competing in the FA County run Pan-Disability Leagues.
NCFA SEN Officer David Ramzan took delivery of the kit at one of 5-A-Side-Fun’s football sessions in Ashford, where the enthusiastic players lined up to show off two of the shirts they were sending off to India.
The 5 A-Side Fun’s sessions are very popular and highly respected in Kent. They are inclusive, friendly and always fun with participants, volunteers, family and friends. ‘It is a wonderful feeling to be in a position to support football for young people in areas around the world that need a helping hand to get started with their teams and clubs’, said, Margot.
Slum Soccer team, India. Head Coach, Homkant Surandase, said, ‘On behalf of Slum Soccer I would like to thank the 5-A-side Fun Club, Ashford for your wonderful donation which will be gratefully received by our young players in Nagpur’. ‘We have many girls and boys that struggle to find football kits so this will be a great gift from the wonderful team in Ashford through the NCFA to our players in India, thank you very much.
Pic 001. 5-A-Side Fun players showing off two of the shirts from the donated set of kit.
Pic 002. Margot Eastwell and her son Thomas.
Pic 003. David Ramzan receiving a bag full of Kit from Margot.
Pic 004. 5-A-Side-Fun match at their weekly football session.
Pic 005. A strike on goal.
“Pass it to Muller” one lad shouted to a team mate and a series of passes saw the youngest of the team despatch the ball into the net pass the despairing dive of the keeper. The scorer was wearing a Germany World Cup football shirt with Muller on the back. His team mates had spent the last five minutes of the game setting him up with a number of chances before he scored his goal and round down the pitch beaming with his teammates ruffling his hair, patting him on the head and congratulating him. This is typical of how children play when left to their own devices and the older players looking after the younger ones and everyone learning and playing together.
The 5th Summer off the Streets was a great success with nearly 50 children present, boys and girls aged from 5 to 13.
Choosing teams we ask the children to pair up with a friend and then join them with another pair of friends and you have a team. They number themselves 1-4 and when we shout that persons number it is their turn to go in goal.
The only other stipulation is that it is 10 minutes games, round robin. How the games kick off, how they play the ball onto the pitch (a throw or dribble or kick) if the keepers can kick from hand or just throw the ball, the pass back rule, whether they have centres or kick offs is purely down to the children and they sort it as they go along, with the minimum of fuss, no quibbling, just getting on with the game.
We never bother giving out bibs and the kids never ask us. Just fun, play and football from 10.30 in the morning until 2.30 in the afternoon with 30 minutes lunch break.
At the end we asked each team which team they enjoyed playing against the most. When they selected the team we asked that team to pick the most sporting and fun team mate. That was the only award.
When given the right environment children revert directly to play and having fun.
“The World Cup (in 1966) was not won on the playing fields of England, it was won on the streets.