Football was introduced to the London Panathlon programme in 2008 following the receipt of a grant from the Football Foundation.
This ensured the introduction of football for Panathletes with severe learning difficulties (SLD) for Powerchair users and for visually impaired footballers.
Panathlon has also helped to deliver football education, including the FA Coaching Disabled Footballers course, FA Visual Impaired Footballers course and three Powerchair Football courses.
Panathlon has developed its structure for SLD football in London, with more competitive opportunities and matches for all and coaching opportunities for those with less confidence to compete in the main competition.
The format now sees teams from the 32 London Boroughs across two age groups – under-13s and under-16s – compete in regional heats, with the top two teams from the North, South, East and West London regions qualifying for the finals of either the Champions Cup or the Plate competition.
Since 2014, we have delivered football finals at Powerleague Wembley Stadium, in the shadow of Wembley’s iconic arch.
Last years final involved 118 young players with disabilities and special educational needs from 11 London schools who had all battled through qualifying. There were 48 matches overall with 183 goals scored. New champions were crowned for the first time – LB. of Enfield.
In the week preceding the final, The Plate Football Finals took place for the first-round losers, also at Wembley Stadium Powerleague, involving 108 footballers from 10 schools.
Including the qualifying rounds, Plate and Champions Finals and additional coaching for those teams not yet confident enough to join in the main competition, the programme comprised 653 players from 38 schools across the capital.
To build on the continuing success of Panathlon’s football programme, a new girls’ coaching and competitive programme was introduced in 2016 and has flourished since then with various development days, where skills and confidence are grown. Female young leaders and coaches also deliver this and this will continue to develop in the next year with help from the inclusion leads in London and an expansion of the girls football programme will occur.
Thanks to the Jack Petchey Foundation for continuing to fund this project in London.
The Football programme also takes place in other counties across the country and you can read about the North-West deaf Football competition here.