Funding boost for young footballers in Lichfield

More youngsters with disabilities and special needs around Lichfield are to get specialist soccer coaching thanks to an innovative new scheme being launched by a community group.

Matthew Ellis with Steve Kirk at a special needs coaching session

Matthew Ellis with Steve Kirk at a special needs coaching session

Thanks to newly-secured funding, Whittington Football Club are kicking off plans to provide Queens Croft, Rocklands and Saxon Hill Special Schools with specialist football coaching for young people with a wide range of disabilities.

The scheme builds on work by club volunteers who provide free sessions once a month at King Edwards Leisure Centre in Lichfield to encourage more youngsters with special needs to take part in activities.

Steve Kirk, who coaches the youngsters, said the funding secured last week by Matthew Ellis, Whittington’s County Councillor, means the number of young people taking part can increase again. He added:

“We are delighted that we can now get even more young people involved with our football coaching programmes. We’ve seen a genuine transformation with many of the youngsters who come along and whilst the football is great fun these activities offer far more that just taking part in sport.”

The £1,600 grant from the County Council will be used to purchase specialist equipment such as wheelchair friendly footballs and training cones as well as 36 hours of professional FA coaching both at the schools and at Whittington’s ground.

County Councillor Matthew Ellis said:

“I watched one of the Whittington coaching sessions for young people with disabilities 18 months ago and was very impressed.The Local Members’ Initiative Scheme funding back then has been used wisely to make sure disability isn’t a barrier to sporting activities in our area.

“The club want to build on that proven success by widening participation further and I’m delighted to have secured some extra funding for them which will help that happen. It’s great to see able bodied youngsters understanding disability better by playing and coaching football with those who have some special needs and enjoying it so much together.”

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