Prior to 1999 The Football Association’s support for the development of disability football was limited. At this time there was a plethora of organisations that represented disabled people and The FA found it difficult to produce a coherent all-embracing strategy for disabled football.
The creation of the English Federation of Disability Sports (EFDS), the umbrella organisation for the seven National Disability Sports organisations, in 1998 and the establishment by The FA of the Football Development Department a year later, led to the development of the first national disability football programme (Ability Counts was launched in 1999). This was seen as the initial step in helping to identify and develop talented footballers, providing quality coaching and increasing participation in the disability game.
In 2001, after a period of extensive consultation with its stakeholders and in response to the various Government policy documents, The FA produced its Football Development Strategy (providing a strategic framework for football development in England for 2001-2006). The Football Development Strategy’s key objective was to increase participation, quality and enjoyment of football using four key strands.
One of these was entitled ‘Opportunities for all’ which committed The FA to ensure that everybody had the opportunity to play, coach, manage, referee and be spectators regardless of their race, culture, religion, gender, ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or social status. Complimenting this, the first FA Football Development Programme – Disability Football Strategy (2004–2006) was the first step in integrating disability football into the ‘mainstream’.
The development of a clear strategy to ensure the further development of disability football is one of The FA’s strategic imperatives. This is embedded in both The FA Strategic Vision and the National Game Strategy (both covering 2008-2012). As a result, The FA’s Disability Football Strategy 2010-12 has been developed.
Click here to download The FA's Disability Football Strategy 2010-12
This new Disability Strategy cannot be achieved successfully without the support of our partners and major stakeholders and has therefore been developed in consultation with them. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics will provide a unique opportunity to enthuse people to take part in sport.
The FA and the whole of the sporting family must be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that hosting these two globally important events will present and be prepared to meet the challenges that the huge potential increase in participation that they will produce which will logically follow.