Posted on April 03, 2020

Qatar Foundation’s Ability Friendly Football Program started delivering classes in 2019, and, since then, has worked with more than 300 children with specific needs across the country.

Initially, the program started as community classes, quickly followed by the introduction of a school program, too, which saw the Ability Friendly Football Program team take the initiative out to the wider community and visit local Special Educational Needs schools and centers to provide children with more access to sports. Ryan Moignard, Senior ASD/Special Needs Football Specialist and Coach, Community Engagement, Qatar Foundation, said: “Over the last 12 months, many of our participants have progressed from small group classes to large group classes, with others graduating to mainstream programs. “Seeing the children develop is our overarching goal, as ultimately, through the Ability Friendly Football Program we are striving to help each and every one of our students fulfil their potential.”

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Naima, the parent of a child in the program, said: “They are a brilliant team who are warm, gentle, and compassionate individuals and deserve a lot of credit. “Yusuf loves them and they love Yusuf. It’s clear from how they work they are passionate about what they do. As parents they have made us feel welcome and comfortable. We were a little concerned about Yusuf’s hyperactivity, but they integrated Yusuf very nicely into the football sessions and he’s gone from strength to strength. “Well done team and keep up the marvelous work. We deeply appreciate the effort you are doing for our son.”

The program is continuing to grow, and this year introduced an educational arm, including disability awareness and coach education workshops. In February alone, 20 coaches from Generation Amazing – part of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy – attended an awareness workshop. The next step will be the provision of ability specific workshops for the coaches, helping practitioners to become disability confident and equipping them with the skills and know-how to offer their own weekly community classes.

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Mr. Moignard said: “The Ability Friendly Football Program has gone from strength to strength, and while we have had to suspend physical classes due to the coronavirus, we will begin running online support in the coming weeks. We are also developing other aspects of the program, such as designing strategies and crafting session portfolios. “Moving forward, one of our ambitions is to support Qatar in increasing the number of practitioners who can deliver classes, recruiting from different organizations from around the country.

“And our long term aim is to take the program to a global level, providing countries around the world with support from the Qatar Foundation team, ultimately helping more children with specific needs access sport. This will help create a long-lasting legacy of the program.”