Children with special educational needs and physical disabilities enjoyed football festivals run by the Sports Development Unit this week.
Football is part of the Disability School Sports Programme, which is open to primary and secondary pupils.
In each of the five sports featured, in-schools sessions are followed by all-Island festivals for both age groups.
Prior to Wednesday’s event at the NSC, the Sports Development Unit – part of Manx Sport and Recreation (MSR) – ran weekly sessions for pupils from schools’ special education needs units.
‘The training was adapted for a wide range of disabilities and took place in an inclusive environment,’ said Zoe Crowe, Disability Sports Development Officer. ‘Regular activity can improve children’s physical functioning, self-confidence and overall well-being.’
Children coming together for the festivals took part in penalty shootouts, time trial shooting and a target challenge, then competed in matches.
‘More than 100 children had a fun-filled and fulfilling day playing football,’ said Zoe.
Zoe said the event could not have taken place without support from the Isle of Man Football Association (IoMFA); FA skills coaches, who are part of an initiative to encourage primary children to get active, learn skills and enjoy the game, and MSR’s own Young Leaders, who are on a year-long programme to develop experience in coaching children’s sports activities.
‘With the help of these volunteers, such sporting festivals can be facilitated on a regular basis,’ Zoe said.