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SRSA Celebrated For Special Needs Program

By OSA News, 11/18/14, 8:45PM EST


While attending the first ever Sudbury Soccer Symposium last weekend OSA Grassroots Manager Bobby Lennox took time to meet with Jeff McNeil, Technical Director for Sudbury Regional Soccer Association.

McNeil leads the region's popular special needs program which grew from a parent’s passion of the game and an identified need for Clubs to become more inclusive.

"We kicked off the Special Needs Soccer program in 2010 and it is still going strong today," McNeil said. "In our inaugural season we were gifted 8 size 4 balls from BMO. Each ball was inked and autographed with the year in which we started up. Our plan is to gift these balls to clubs who concurrently or subsequently start up an inclusive soccer program."

It’s important to note the vital role these programs can play in the inclusion of a child with a disability, helping them to be seen as a soccer player first and not simply a child with a disability.

It also provides a great relief for parents.

"As an organizer the most gratifying moment was when I heard a parent speaking loudly on her mobile: 'Hello?...I can't speak now I'm at my son's soccer game....YES...he plays soccer. ..YES...'that son'… bye,'" McNeil described.  

"At that very moment I realized our humble get-togethers gifted special families perhaps what they require most – a sense of normalcy...if only for one evening per week," McNeil said.

Ahead of its time, the program utilized common sense and implemented LTPD philosophies from the get go. Small fields, open rosters, small sided games, collaborative coaches and most recently Game Leaders and not referees are hallmarks of the weekly get-togethers?.

Congratulations again to Sudbury Regional Soccer Association on the success and recognition of a great program.

Click here for more information regarding the program. For Clubs interested in creating or growing their inclusive soccer program more information can be found here.

Clubs offering inclusive soccer programs were drawn at random following a summer survey run by the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) and Ontario Soccer Association. The survey was designed to assist the CPC in measuring the level of activity in soccer clubs across Ontario.