Both locally and nationally, football participation is increasing year on year. Fears the pandemic would cause a decrease in participation were wrong, and in fact post-pandemic has seen faster increases of participation than before in both male and female pathways. However, Disability football has not seen a continued rise in participation post-pandemic. Despite year-on-year rises up to the 2019/20 season, participation levels have not yet returned to where they were.
To support clubs become even stronger members of their communities, we want to continue to help clubs offer provision within the Disability Football Pathway. Since 2021, we have introduced our NFA Inclusion Hub programme, providing financial support for Clubs to start youth football sessions for neurodiverse children, and provided training to help coaches adapt sessions. This has already supported the formation of our first affiliated Youth Pan-Disability Football Teams part of a Grassroots Club in our region, with our first Youth Disability Football Festival to be held later this year.
The NFA Inclusion Hub programme will continue to run under a new guise, with The FA introducing a new programme called FA Comets, which will look to support clubs start a youth disability pathway, much in the same way the FA Wildcats programme has supported girls football pathways go from strength-to-strength at so many clubs. In addition, in December 2023, we were delighted to host The FA’s first pilot delivery of the new Coaching Disabled Footballers Course, which was fully booked. Alongside our existing Coach Development provision, we hope clubs and their coaches will create an exciting future for Disability Football in the region.
To support adults playing within the Disability Football Pathway, we are now pleased to launch The NFA Your Club Grant. This is specifically to support people aged 16 and over have opportunities to participate in football within a grassroots football club. Details of the grant are below, and although the end-result of the grant does not need to be the creation of an affiliated Team to play in a League, we hope the start of a brand new open-age Ability Counts League in spring/summer 2024 will help demonstrate a pathway available for people with a disability who want to play football.
NFA Your Club Grant
We want as many clubs as possible to be able to say to anyone “Our Club can be Your Club. Come and join us.”
What do you need to deliver:
- A regular session for pan-disability, or disability specific, football coached by FA Qualified Coaches (min one coach with Level 1 or Intro to Coaching Football. Assistant coaches with FA Playmaker. FA First Aid Qualified Coach.).
- Running weekly or bi-weekly sessions for a minimum of 16 sessions.
- Register all Players on The FA Club Portal.
Who is eligible:
What can you use funding for:
- Anything that will support the Club provide a great experience to the players. This can include cost of facility hire, paying for some extra coaching, putting a coach who will work with the group through qualifications/CPD, new kit & equipment, advertising materials to promote your Club and this session.
- There will be a requirement to provide evidence of spend at 10 and 20 weeks after grant is awarded.
What extra support can you access:
- To apply, please complete and submit the online application form HERE.
- The deadline for applications is Wednesday 14th February.
- If you have any questions, please email Head of Football Development, David Jones, via firstname.lastname@example.org.