Solihull Moors Foundation, a charity that aims to make positive pathways through the power of sport, were recently awarded £5,000 from the Solihull Winter Wellbeing & Recovery Fund to safely deliver outdoor football sessions for children and young people with learning disabilities.
After spending months cooped up in their homes participating in virtual Zoom sessions over lockdown, the boys at the Solihull Moors Foundation are excited to finally have physical sessions back, thanks to the grant awarded in partnership with Solihull Council.
The sessions started at the end of January and are planned to run for 3 months. Becci Fox, CEO of Solihull Moors Foundation, explained:
“We have 80 people each week attending our football sessions regardless of ability, needs or age.
“We need to give specific training with specific equipment and grassroots football isn’t always set up for that, you have to think about the barriers that we have to break down.
“Without the sessions their physical capabilities would worsen, some of our boys with cerebral palsy would lose muscle tone.”
Solihull Moors Foundation cater for many additional needs such as Down syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome, Autism and partial sightedness. Their tailored football sessions provide togetherness, combat social isolation, improvements to mental and physical wellbeing.
“Our lead coach said when the boys came back they were very nervous after being away for so long, but after a couple sessions there’s been laughter again.
“That’s been the biggest thing, to hear a group laughing, to hear them celebrating together and taking the micky out of each other, that’s been the most obvious change, it’s more about the emotional wellbeing.”
“Without funding we would’ve had to continue running our Zoom sessions with the goodness of our volunteers.
“Young people need something tangible; they need coaches. It’s more than just football sessions, it’s wellbeing, it’s mentoring, it’s that friendly face each week.”
One beneficiary shared their experience with the new sessions:
“During lockdown I haven’t been able to find motivation for anything, it’s ruined my sleeping pattern, I go sleep at silly times and wake up late.
“With football on the weekends it’s given me something to look forward to and something to wake up for. The sessions are enjoyable and it’s a good crack and being able to socialise is nice.”
Another beneficiary added:
“Before my first session with the club I was anxious because I didn’t know what to expect and how people would react to me. However, the lads and everyone involved with the coaching were really welcoming and accepting.
“It’s nice that we actually play football and do proper drills as such and not just have a kick about. I like the seriousness and competitiveness that the club has.”
If you’d like to apply for a grant, click here.