Blind/Visually Impaired Football
A story by Rangers Charity Foundation SCIO
The Rangers Charity Foundation provided the opportunity for young people with a Visual Impairment to take part in free football sessions in a fun and friendly environment whilst allowing their carers to enjoy a break from their normal routine.
What Blind/Visually Impaired Football did
The project delivered 24 Visual Impaired (VI) football sessions for young people aged between 5-16 years old. These took place every second Sunday at Glasgow Club Drumoyne. The sessions were designed around 4 Key components:
Independent learning – all participants are given time at the start of the session where they are free to uses the equipment and space to develop their own skills. This can take many different shapes such as individual technique work, coming up with their own practises or free play with others.
Structured coaching – the coaches work with players to go through drills suited to the different levels of ability of the individual players. These practises incorporate opportunities to work as a team, communicate with others, share your opinions and challenge yourself at the level of your choice.
Games – we adapt pitch sizes and mix teams based on ability to allow for as competitive a game as possible. We often put conditions on individual players to make it more challenging for them
Social time – at the end of the sessions we ensure there is social time for both the young people and parents/carers this has helped to build positive relationships within the group.
A real highlight of the project for us has been the desire of the parents to take part in the activities. Many parents have spoken to us about forming stronger bonds due to their joint engagement in the sessions and a common interest in football.
The project incorporated 2 Better Breaks priorities:
Complex needs – Visual Impairment can be a very challenging disability, most of our young people struggle socially due the inability to make eye contact and read facial expressions. We also supported participants with other needs including learning disabilities, mental health issues and other conditions.
Sports and active leisure – By taking part in the session all participants have increased the amount of physical exercise they take part in, allowing opportunities to socialise, share experiences and make friends in a safe and friendly environment.
What Rangers Charity Foundation SCIO has learned
This is our second year of delivery on this project so we had learned a lot from year 1 and put changes in place from feedback to improve different aspects of the project.
From recommendations we gathered we combined our sessions as we had the space to run them at the same time. This allowed all participants and carers to be involved in the same area and helped to create further opportunities to build relationships. With the increased numbers as the sessions were combine we added an additional coach to help manage this.
A strength of the project is utilising the knowledge of the parents/Carers as they know their young people this provides a positive platform to build relationships within the groups. The more information the coaches have the better they are able to plan and adapt to everyone’s needs.
Disappointingly for a lot of our participants the physical activity they take part in with us is their only real experience with sport outside of school. This highlights the lack of opportunities out there for visually impaired young people to take part in sport and the difficulty for them to adapt into mainstream activities.
How Rangers Charity Foundation SCIO has benefitted from the funding
This project has went from strength to strength due largely to the fantastic support from the Better Breaks fund. Without this funding The Rangers Charity Foundation would not have been able to deliver this project and provide support to all the families who benefit from it.
Blind/VI children and young people will take part a fun sporting activities and feel more confident in a social environment resulting in new friendships.
The project created an environment where the participants and their parents/carers can relax and be themselves. The coaches put in the hard work on having fun more than skill development however sessions are also designed to encourage communication and teamwork. This has allowed for more interaction between the group and friendships to be formed.
C (15) has been attending the VI football sessions from the very start, mum Clair said “The VI sessions have brought C out of his shell and he has been able to gain confidence and the ability to play a sport he loves. Before we know about the sessions C wouldn’t leave the house as there is no other VI activities in the south side of Glasgow that we are aware of. Football is a sport C loves but can’t play at full speed due to his eyesight and other conditions so it has played a huge part in him changing his life in a positive way and knowing that it’s okay to be a little different.”
Blind/VI young people and their carer’s will feel more relaxed and less stressed.
For a lot of our young people taking part in these sessions is the only physical activity they take part in out with school. However is not just physical health that is positively impacted, throughout the weeks we have seen great improvement in confidence levels, self-esteem, teamwork and social skills. For parents and carers in particular the social element of the project continues to be of massive benefit.
Robin attends the sessions with son E (11) “in one word amazing, it’s great to find something that E and I can take part in together. We have both made good friends and it’s given us something new in common that we love.”
Blind/VI children and young people and their carer’s will have an improved quality of life
Relationships between all parties have continued to develop and a positive social experience for all involved has been one of the main success of the project. The venue offers many different opportunities for parents/carers but most choice to stay and take part and often are as excited as some of the young people.
C (5) has only recently joined the VI football, mum Sarah said “C is really enjoying it, he’s the youngest in the class but it has not stopped him getting involved. He always has loads of energy but with his vision it’s hard to find things he can take part in. Personally, connecting with other parents has been great, sharing experiences with others who have been through the same things that we are is really refreshing.”