There are 9.4million people in England with a long-standing limiting disability, illness or condition which equates to 18% of the population – almost one in five.
The good news is that there has never been a better time to get involved and play football, whatever your ability level. The FA believes that there should be flexible, inclusive and accessible playing opportunities for everyone, whatever their level of ability. We are committed to delivering a range of opportunities for players with a disability to access football at various levels.
Disability football – a potted history
Prior to 1999 development of disability football was limited and had no coherent national strategy.
The creation of the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), the umbrella organisation for the eight 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 disability football initiative: ‘Ability Counts’.
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 from 2001 to 2006.
The football development strategy’s key objective was to increase participation, quality and enjoyment of football using four key strands.
One of these,‘‘opportunities for all’, committed The FA to ensure that everybody had the opportunity to play, coach, manage, referee and spectate regardless of their race, culture, religion, gender, ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or social status.
Complementing this, the maiden FA disability football strategy (2004–2006) was the first step in integrating disability football into the mainstream.