Hundreds enjoy South Tyneside Ability FC’s annual tournament as organiser thanks dedicated volunteers
An annual football tournament for children and adults with disabilities has been dubbed a huge success despite torrential rain.
After playing in the 30°C at last year’s Annual Disability Football Tournament, heavy rain descended but that didn’t dampen the spirits of 200 players taking part.
The event, which took place at Keelman’s Way School, saw children and adults with various disabilities travel from Birmingham, Doncaster and Scotland to take part in the tournament.
Organised by South Tyneside Ability FC, teams from across the country compete against each other.
The Hebburn-based club has 100 members, each of whom have a disability, with ages ranging from six-years-old to 54.
Chairman of the club, Jamie Laidler said: “It’s been really positive apart from everyone being wet. They’ve enjoyed it and that’s the main thing.
“This is disability football - these are the kids that’s never been accepted for years and a tournament is a tournament.
“All the families come, the carers come, they bring everybody. When you’ve got the volunteers that we do, the parents doing everything.
“We have 45 volunteers who have been working since 7am. You can’t ask for much more from the parents.
“It’s gone from a few cones and some nets to now having over 100 kids a week. What would these kids be doing if they weren’t playing football.
“One in eight kids doesn’t have any statutory help from disability services – we do. We provide voluntary support. It’s not just about the football it’s the social side.
“We’re part of the #WhoAreYou campaign with South Tyneside Council.
“We’re actively doing everything we can to support people and everyone is supporting each other.
“The turnout today, regardless of the weather, I think if it had been sunny we would have had just as many people.
“It’s a fantastic day. The dedication from some of the parents – this one week they absolutely work their socks off to make this tournament a success for their kids.”
“If anybody wants to play disability football please get in touch with ourselves.”