“It’s probably the most important part of his week for him. And if you ask him that, then I think he would tell you that too.”
Support workers and parents, of players with additional support needs, were delighted to hear of the return of Street Soccer’s adult ASN football session at Portobello Powerleague. The weekly session runs every Wednesday morning between 10:30 and noon and offers free football to a core group of adults with varying additional needs, allowing key social interaction and exercise in a safe setting.
One support worker who attends every week with his care receiver highlighted the benefit of the initiative by saying:
“There’s great value in this for him, as it allows social interaction with his peers and I do feel it teaches him a great level of discipline. He has a real competitive edge, which makes this a perfect session for him to come and release that, but first and foremost this is his one massive opportunity per week to meet with his peers and play care-free.”
Street Soccer has provided weekly football to this group since 2012 and it has ran consistently, barring lockdowns, for 50 weeks a year. With restrictions in Scotland easing over recent months, numbers have gradually increased week on week as a mix of males and females enjoy a range of drills and small sided games. Players are referred from a number of different charities or care programmes such Autism Initiatives, Upward Mobility and THERA Scotland
Another support worker present at the session emphasised the impact football has had on some of the players as they emerged from lockdown; “The session returning after lockdown was really important for my care receiver, I can tell he’s in a much happier place. The interaction is a really significant part of his week.”
With many of the players on the autism spectrum, coaches and volunteers have identified just how important routine and structure is for a lot of the participants and have allowed feedback from both the players and support workers to shape the look of the sessions.
“The routine is vital for those on the Autism spectrum and I feel he always comes away feeling great from these sessions, I can tell he feels a real sense of achievement, which is fantastic to see” added another support worker.
“My care receiver has been coming to these sessions for four years and it definitely has a benefit on his entire week. He’s always waking up energised, ready to come here – he even puts his kit out on a Tuesday night knowing that he’s playing football the next again morning.”
In addition to this weekly session, the return of the school term has brought back our partner sessions at Ross High School’s ASN unit in East Lothian. Street Soccer coach Chris Binnie highlighted the positivity of the group on its return:
“Everyone is delighted to get these sessions back in their schedule. You can see how much the kids enjoy it, having that time of the week where they can come and do something a little bit different with us is crucial.”
“We focus on a variation of ball games which help the pupils interact with one another and their teachers. We all want to do it for the same reason – it’s great fun.”
Football is for everyone and Street Soccer plan to make it accessible for anyone who wishes to join. We continue to strive to make positive change through football. If this ASN session in Edinburgh sounds like a good opportunity for you or someone you know, please get in touch with [email protected] to find out more.