THE country’s football leaders have vowed to create more opportunities to footballers with learning disabilities.
In the first meeting of its kind, the world of football agreed to support Special Olympics Great Britain’s newly launched football strategy and ground-breaking Unified Football programme.
The charity aims to increase the 1,750 footballers it currently supports in nearly 50 groups around the country to 3,500 by 2013.
Lawrie McMenemy, Special Olympics GB President, said:
“There are two things every charity needs: awareness and financing – and not necessarily in that order! Football used to be a game and now it is an industry… and everyone at this table is part of that industry… there’s a lot of money in it and we’re just trying to steer a little bit of it our way.
“Any family can have a child with a learning disability and any family can have a football fan too!”
Special Olympics Great Britain was set up over 30 years ago and has nearly 8,000 athletes in 135 groups run by more than 2,600 volunteers. By 2013 the charity hopes to grow the programme from 8,000 athletes to 20,000 and from 2,600 volunteers to 6,000.
In Great Britain there are an estimated 1.2 million people with a learning disability. In all, learning disability affects 12 million people.