Leamington FC wants footballers for its disability teams which are coached by a Commonwealth Games 'Hometown Hero'

The club has three sections for young players with physical and hidden impairments but is hoping to expand this to include an adult team, a cerebral palsy section and a group for framed football

A disability football training session with Leamington FC at Aylesford School.

Leamington FC are asking youngsters and adults with physical and hidden impairments if they want to get involved in its relaunched disability football section.

The club had tried to get the venture off the ground before lockdown in 2020 but had to wait until September of this year to relaunch the training sessions, which take place at Aylesford School in Warwick.

The club are offering a chance for players who have disabilities to engage in regular training with the hope of creating teams to compete against other disability teams across the region and surrounding areas.

Leamington FC disability football players and coaches including Mark Fogarty and Kev Redmond.

Players who are already training with the club have a range of disabilities and there are currently three sections in place - under-16s, under-12s, and under-8s.

But the plan is to expand this to include an adult section of players aged 16 and above - for which there are already a few signed up - a cerebral palsy section and a group for framed football, which is an adapted football form in which children who use a walker or walking frame can also get involved in the sport.

Training is currently free of charge due to sponsorship money received from construction firm the Hardyman Group, which has also bought kits for the players.

The club is also in the planning stage of creating a multi-sports disability academy with a school for students aged 16 and above with the aim of not only providing them with a further education but to enable them to work within the sports sector.

Young players for Leamington FC's disability football section at Aylesford School.

The programme was set up by Mark Fogarty, the club's head of football development.

He said: "“The whole ethos we have at Leamington Football Club is to include everybody.

"The sign of a very good football club is one that is built on a solid foundation, and that foundation for us is the work we do within the disability community.”

“We believe it's important that we have kids with disabilities playing alongside each other.

"Some of these talented youngsters may have struggled in mainstream football because of their impairment and may not have had the same opportunities as others, which often leads to them leaving the sport they love.

"Our aim has always been to create a welcoming and safe environment for players with impairments to thrive, develop and feel like one of the team.

"This is one of the reasons we wanted Kev Redmond involved.

"He will bring an energy into the club, which he succeeded in doing at the last centre he worked at. ”

Kev, who is Leamington's lead disability coach, was recently announced as one of 14 Hometown Heroes – inspiring champions of community sport in the West Midlands – by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games for the work he did with the cerebral palsy squad during his time as a coach with Solihull Moors FC.

Kev said: "“It was humbling to be selected as a Hometown Hero.

"I've always put the players first, pushing them and encouraging them to have the confidence to take on challenges that come their way – both on and off the pitch.

"Receiving that recognition from Birmingham 2022 is a reminder to me why I give so much of my time to support them - it’s all about seeing the players improve their skills and leave with a smile on their faces. “

"Over the summer, Mark offered me the opportunity to coach within a local SEND school as part of the community work the club is involved in.

"Having worked with Mark previously at another Ability Counts centre, he also wanted me to head up the disability centre running from Aylesford.

"How could I refuse such an opportunity?

"I have a great team around me at Aylesford - one of whom was previously one of my cerebral palsy players who showed an interest in coaching.

"The club took him on board and we're now mentoring him as he starts his journey into disability coaching.

"The sessions put on are structured around the different age groups, as well as the needs of the players, and follow a certain format every week, working on players' health and fitness of both body and mind along with fun footballing activities.

"Each session starts with a warm-up, followed by some fitness exercises.

"There will be technical drills that introduce ball activities and an aspect of tactics, depending on age, ending in a small-sided game.

"We encourage parent participation in all our sessions - this has helped a lot of our players get involved initially before taking the lead themselves.

"It is always great to see that type of progress”

Anyone interested in getting involved in the sessions can come along to Aylesford School on a Saturday morning.

The sessions run from 10.45am to noon.

There is also more information on the Leamington FC Pan-Disability Football Facebook page, or via the @LeamDisability Twitter account.

Email enquiries can be made to [email protected] [email protected] and [email protected]