Dublin clubs lead the way in project for special needs

by Aaron Dunne
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The FAI’s ‘Football for All’ was started in 2002 and continues to grow across the country, providing football for those with additional or special needs. 

Mick Kennedy, Director of ‘Football for All’ with Knocklyon Utd, held a Football Blitz recently in Lucan at the South County Dublin Ballyowen Park sports centre for children with special needs. Eight clubs participating in this World Cup event. 

This followed other events including team blitzes held earlier this year at St John Bosco in Drimnagh and one held in Knocklyon previously. 

Clubs involved in Lucan were Castleknock Celtic, Glasnevin FC, Knocklyon Utd, St John Bosco, Lourdes Celtic, Finglas Utd, Swords Celtic and Cambridge Boys.

The pathway forward is that blitzes and friendlies will take place in the months ahead in preparation for the league for different age groups to start in September 2022 under the auspices of the DDSL in Dublin and other leagues across the country.

The football blitz event started on the Saturday morning with a parade of the participating teams carrying their respective country flags that they were representing. But it was soon time to play and the children from 6 years of age up to 9, and from 10 to 13, were soon into action, with Finglas Utd showing the way as they are very experienced. Later in the morning, it was the turn of the 14-18 year olds.

At the end of the games, at the medals and gifts presentation, Mick Kennedy, and the Minister for Sport, Jack Chambers TD, made the presentation. 

The Minister told the participating footballers, parents and organisers that he was delighted to be there at what is one of the most important initiatives to be undertaken over the past 20 years. He added: “I was privileged to attend the Football For All tournament and to present medals to the participants in my role as Minister for Sport. It was a brilliant event that was wonderfully well attended and organised. I am a huge admirer of the ‘Football For All’ concept.”

 which is built on the principles of inclusivity and ensuring everyone gets an equal opportunity to play and participate. I have been supporting Football For All as a local TD through Castleknock Celtic who have shown incredible dedication and commitment to provide opportunities for families in the Dublin 15 area. It was great to see the club perform so well at the weekend. As Minister, I am also eager to support the concept at a wider national level and in my engagements with the FAI and Sport Ireland. I am also working to develop a Sport For All ethos across the entire sector and ensuring these principles are at the heart of all grassroots sport in Ireland. The Department of Sport provides ringfenced funding through the Dormant Accounts Fund for hard to reach communities across the country, focusing on people with disabilities, people who are educationally disadvantaged and from disadvantaged communities. In December, I was delighted to announce €4.1m to support a range wide range of sport and physical activity measures nationwide. I am determined to continue to grow the Sport For All concept in my role as Minister.”

Minister for Sport Jack Chambers at the recent ‘Football for All’ event which was held at Ballyowen Park in Lucan

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