Summer off the streets 2012

Inclusion or Selective Inclusion.

Do You Decide?

Football without great expectations.

The day was summed up neatly by fourteen year old Peter; “It was great fun, played so much football and loads of goals. I got to captain one team and really liked helping and encouraging the younger kids in the team.”

Inclusion, one of the 21st century buzz words its everywhere except in football. Well we have football for all at grass roots level – but that is now selective inclusion and you may need to drive 100 miles to sample where those that decide how you should be included have put you.

Football was always inclusive and on your doorstep, it is the one truly inclusive sport if left alone and done naturally. I think they used to call it play, anytime, anywhere and any age – all you need is some players, a ball and something to use for goals.

The grass roots game is becoming more and more selective with FA charter clubs now advertising and holding trials. The more organised they get the more selective they become – it is a natural development but not one that is good for children.

There is still some inclusive football but it is getting harder to find and people, especially parents are confused as to what they can and can’t do.

In Gloucestershire the NCFA have several projects running, one of which is a truly inclusive Saturday morning football session. This is the fourth season it has been running and it is all about fun and learning together through play.

Is the Game the Teacher?

On Saturday everyone joins in fun warm up games with a ball each and then we play fun games and matches. The 4-6s go in one group and the rest into another group.

We had a match of 8v7 ages 7-55, three generations, boys and girls as well as a teenager with severe learning and speech disabilities.

There are no bibs or shirts, no side lines, just players a ball and 4 traffic cones for goals. The games are brilliant and everyone makes it work. All involved see plenty of the ball and play non – stop for an hour, except for a short half time.

I am sure every rule in the ‘new rules on play’ have been broken, but that is inclusion in football not the new ‘selective inclusion approach’.

For more information about Summer Off the Streets contact Paul Cooper

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