From July 18-22, 2022, the Disabilities Allies Coaches Community celebrated Disability Awareness Week.
During this week, the Community brought awareness to the disability soccer community. Bringing awareness to the additional needs of players with disabilities helps us make soccer the inclusive game it’s meant to be. We are excited to celebrate athletes and coaches with diverse abilities.
TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a recreational sports program for children and adults with intellectual, emotional, or physical disabilities offered only through local US Youth Soccer-affiliated soccer clubs.
TOPSoccer provides people with diverse abilities an opportunity to play soccer in a structured environment that is safe, fun, supportive, and inclusive.
At the US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships in June, there was a TOPSoccer festival that showcased the program. Event referees and teams volunteered their time on their off day to provide some competition and fun! Check out the video recapping the event!
U.S. Soccer Extended National Teams
Did you know that the US Women’s Deaf National team recently captured the gold medal at the Deaf Olympics? The team was led by Kate Ward, who was also recently nominated for an ESPY!
The US Para National Teams include players who have had a stroke, have cerebral palsy, or have had a traumatic or acquired brain injury. These players are all ambulatory and can move without an assistive device.
The US Para Men’s National Team recently finished 4th at the World Cup! These athletes, led by Coach Stuart Sharp, play 7v7 in competitions.
The newly launched Para Women’s National Team made its international competition debut and won the 2022 IFCPF World Cup held in Spain. They play 5v5.
Power soccer is a team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. Athletes’ disabilities include quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and cerebral palsy. The game is played in a gymnasium on a regulation basketball court.
Check out this video from the United State Power Soccer Association
Amputee soccer was invented by Don Bennett in 1980. Our Amputee National team competes on an international stage against more than 40 nations.
The game is played 3/4 size pitch with the format for international match play is 6 v 6 + goalkeepers. Field players use forearm crutches and may play the ball with only one leg. Goalkeepers may only use one arm to defend the goal.
1 in 7 People Have a Neurodivergent Condition
It’s estimated that in the global adult population that 10% are dyslexic, 5% are dyspraxic, 4% have ADHD, and 1-2% are autistic.
When coaching athletes with diverse abilities, focus on the person instead of the disability. These athletes want to participate in sports for the same reason as your other athletes. Understand their goals for participation, what they want to learn, and strategies for achieving goals.
Coaches must adapt drills and activities all the time for athletes. Coaches can be very creative in coming up with new ideas and they can do this to help the athlete with a disability succeed.
Athletes with disabilities want to be like the other members of the team with regards to having realistic and challenging expectations. Athletes with disabilities want feedback to help them learn and grow.