Footballers representing Oxford United who live with a disability took part in their first formal tournament in Wiltshire – less than a year after the team was established.
Managed by Oxford United in the Community in partnership with Abingdon and Witney College, the club’s disability football team is a product of funded weekly sessions which launched in January.
The team travelled to Devizes where they played against three other disability squads in six 10-minute games as part of Wiltshire Football Association’s Fest4All.
Six players took the field, all of whom signed on the dotted line to represent the United badge after meeting club legend and Head of Player Care at the Academy James Constable. They were also presented with Oxford United shirts to wear during the tournament and given a special pep-talk by Beano before kick-off.
Joining players on the day were Mark Thomas, Social Inclusion Lead at Oxford United in the Community, and Lee Humber, Adult Learning Disability Coordinator at Abingdon and Witney College.
Mark said taking participants outside of their usual training environment by playing competitively against teams they had never met before was excellent for their social and skill development.
“Our disability football sessions have proven really popular with participants and the week-by-week progress we’re witnessing is rewarding to see,” said Mark. “There was real enthusiasm in the team to take their game to the next level by participating in a tournament, and we’re grateful to the Wiltshire FA for their invitation.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t bring football home! But the experiences on and off the field far outweigh any results.
“Providing opportunities of this kind forms a key part of our wider vision to inspire happier, healthier and better-connected communities by harnessing football and its power to bring people together.
“We remain enthusiastic to provide additional opportunities of this kind in the future and encourage anyone living with a disability who is yet to experience one of our sessions to come along and try it for themselves.”
To register your interest in Oxford United in the Community’s disability football sessions, please email [email protected]. Sessions are held every Wednesday during term time for two hours and start at 1pm in the main sports hall at Abingdon and Witney College’s Abingdon campus.
All abilities are welcome and no previous playing experience is required.
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