Foot­ball first a big suc­cess

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Mana Col­lege hosted a grass­roots foot­ball pro­gramme for chil­dren with spe­cial needs last week, and or­gan­is­ers hope it will be the first of many.

About 18 stu­dents from Mana and Mahi­nawa Spe­cial­ist School drib­bled through cones and took part in other drills and games as part of the Just Play pro­gramme set up by Spe­cial Olympics NZ (SNZ) and Ocea­nia Foot­ball.

It teaches chil­dren aged 8 to 18, who have an in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity, the fun of learn­ing new skills, de­vel­op­ing con­fi­dence, work­ing in a team and, above all, hav­ing fun.

Ten schools in the Welling­ton re­gion, and 25 across the coun­try, in­volv­ing more than 100 teach­ers, have seen the ini­tia­tive start with a real pos­i­tive buzz, SNZ foot­ball de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Adam Hay­man says. Each school gets kit, balls, bibs, cones and some teacher train­ing, and those that have taken it up have been very en­thu­si­as­tic.

‘‘This is a great thing for foot­ball and for spe­cial needs stu­dents that Ocea­nia Foot­ball have de­cided to in­vest in.

‘‘The kids are ac­tive, they’re work­ing to­gether and you can see they’re hav­ing fun. It’s us­ing foot­ball as a tool for so­cial de­vel­op­ment.’’

Mr Hay­man hopes the num­ber of schools in­volved for the next stage, later this year, triples across New Zealand and by 2013 they have enough to hold re­gional and na­tional tour­na­ments.

He en­vis­ages other sports get­ting in­volved in the model that foot­ball is putting for­ward, too.

A for­mer pro­fes­sional foot­baller in Scot­land, Mr Hay­man says it is fan­tas­tic to have more kids play­ing the game.

‘‘ With spe­cial needs kids it’s very re­ward­ing – they of­ten get pushed to one side, but you put them in an en­vi­ron­ment like this and they have no re­serve. It’s great to be a part of.’’

Foot­ball fever: Aroha Taeoalii from Mana Col­lege is all con­cen­tra­tion as she pre­pares to shoot for goal.

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