Football For All reaching its goals in Northern Ireland

23 Jun 2020
  • FIFA Forward has supported Irish Football Association’s Football For ALL initiative

  • The project aims to create a fun, safe and inclusive culture for boys and girls

  • 22,000 people with disabilities participate in football activities in Northern Ireland every year

“It’s not just for boys and not just for some age groups – it’s for everybody.”

When Ellie from Northern Ireland talks about football and her training sessions at Lightning Powerchair Football, her eyes light up and she can't stop smiling.

Ellie is dependent on a walker or a wheelchair to get around. But this doesn’t stop the girl enjoying her great passion: football. She benefits from the Football For ALL initiative of the Irish Football Association (IFA), which has been supported by the FIFA Forward Programme with USD 600,000.

The initiative is part of the IFA’s ten-year Let Them Play strategy, which aims to support boys and girls regardless of their background or level of play, and to encourage them to reach their full potential. By 2025, the youth participation rate is to be increased to 100,000 and all schools in the country are to offer football. In addition, the goal has been formulated to create new training paths for youth coaches and to promote player development.

People with a disability like Ellie play a major role in Football For ALL. Every year, 22,000 children, aged between five and 13, pursue their hobby in the IFA’s Small-Sided Games Development Centres, disabled clubs and football camps. It's not just about developing talent, but also about creating positive citizens. Citizens who, ultimately, can make a valuable contribution to society.

“Since I started playing football I’ve made more friends, I’ve come out of the house more, I’ve done more stuff that I thought I wouldn’t be able to,” said Ellie. And before she returns to her friends on the field she added: “I love it!”

Irish Football Association (IFA)’s Football For ALL initiative