Annual football tournament for residents with disabilities returns to South Tyneside

An annual football tournament for residents with disabilities across the region returns this year, after organisers were forced to cancel 2020’s instalment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The #WhoRya initiative, which was first set up in 2017 to help support vulnerable adults living with disabilities in the North East, will be held in South Tyneside once again on Saturday, July 31.

A one-day tournament of seven-a-side outdoor football matches on grass pitches will see players of all ages and a range of disabilities come together to celebrate both the sport and diversity in the region.

Teams from Sunderland, Doncaster and Falkirk in Scotland will compete along with the South Tyneside Ability Football Club – which is based at Keelman’s Way School in Hebburn, where the tournament will be held.

The #WhoRYa tournament is to be held this year at the Keelman's Way sports pitches.

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Club chairman and Hebburn resident, Justin Laidler, told The Gazette that this year’s event would have added significance given the disappointment of last year’s cancellation and wider difficulties faced by many of the players during the lockdown months.

“We’re not going as big as we’d normally do, given the rise in [infection] numbers,” he said.

"But we’re still going ahead with it to give our players a chance to play some football. It’s about giving something back to our kids and the other players taking part.

"We’ve held quizzes and other activities to try and keep people engaged throughout the pandemic. But it’s just not the same as being able to hold an event like this.

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The #WhoRYa tournament is to be held this year at the Keelman's Way sports pitches.

"It’s going to give everyone a major lift.”

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