Villa in the Community is raising participation in Disability Sport

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Photos courtesy of Neville Williams

Villa in the Community launched as a charity in October 2013, with an emphasis on increasing engagement with the local community, and to widen the provision of the outreach programmes that the club already engage in. In the first year, one of the big focuses has been to increase participation within disability sport, both in football and in other sports.

Over the next few years, the goal is to expand provision and to bring more sports into the inclusive programme, and develop the various football opportunities available.

Villa’s Football Development Disability Coach Nigel Macrow has been working with schools and groups in the local area for many years, coaching young people with varying degrees of ability including those with visual impairments, physical impairments and learning difficulties. As well as coaching in disability schools, Nigel often works with children identified as SENs in mainstream schools, to improve their skills through sport and football-related activities. This year he will be increasing the club’s powerchair football provision within schools to cope with demand and establish a pathway into the club’s associate powerchair football side the Villa Rockets. Nigel also coaches several AVFC pan-disability teams who are entered into the Birmingham FA Ability Counts League. The teams are very successful and have won the league numerous times under the guidance of Mr Macrow.

Photo Courtesy of Neville Williams

Photo Courtesy of Neville Williams

As well as football, the club has maintained a disability sport section as part of the Premier League 4 Sport project, aiming to keep young people aged 14+ active and involved in a whole variety of sports. This year Villa in the Community added a badminton session to the judo session that was previously part of the disability provision with PL4Sport. From September golf and tennis will be added, with a view to having a disability session in 6 sports (other than football) by the end of 2015.

In November 2013, Aston Villa took part in the inaugural Birmingham Disability Sports Fest, hosting taster sessions for new participants in Powerchair Football (with the Villa Rockets) and Pan-Disability Football. In July 2014 the club took part again, adding Badminton to the programme. With the addition of the new sports in September, the club hopes to be able to provide even more taster sessions in the festival and get more young people with disabilities playing sport.

Villa in the Community were also invited to take part in NAIDEX this year, a disability exhibition at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre that attracts over 10,000 people every year. Villa legend Ian Taylor came down to talk about our projects and demonstrations were held with some of the local children that the club work with in golf, badminton, hockey, football, Powerchair football and visually impaired judo.

Villa Park’s Indoor Academy hosted what is believed to be the world’s first frame-only football match in May. Two four- versus-four matches took place at Villa Park’s Indoor Academy last month as part of a Birmingham FA Ability Counts Football event. The matches were organised by Coundon Court Football Club.

This year has been a big year for the club, with the launch of the charity and the expansion of disability provision, the aim is to grow the projects substantially over the next few years to reach as many young people as possible and introduce them to the sporting opportunities out there for those with disabilities. In order to do this Villa in the Community requires funding to make things sustainable and to allow the charity to expand its outreach into the community by acquiring more disability- specific equipment and increase the capacity of its coaching staff. With more support the future looks bright for disability sport at Aston Villa.

If you would like to find out more about our projects or you would like to help us raise money to support and expand our disability projects, please email or call the Villa in the Community team on 0121 327 2299.

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