After a two-year absence due to Covid-19, the FAI run programme, Football for All is back at Holy Family School, based on the St Joseph’s Foundation campus. Our unique FAI programme offers an outlet for children with special needs to play football with their fellow students from the two secondary school’s TY programmes in Charleville town.
Back in 2011, Charleville AFC approached the Holy Family School, the CBS and St. Mary’s Secondary schools and asked if they would like to participate in FFA. Without hesitation all three schools came on board and so our journey began. Every week a group of transition year students come to the Holy Family School to coach two different age groups. The first session is an hour long and the second session with the younger children is 30 minutes. Under direct supervision by a FFA local club member, the TY students prepare and implement a session plan. The TY students learn to adapt their session plans to the individual needs of the children they coach. As coaches, the TY students learn that they need to be flexible and open.
The second session with the younger children is less structured and the TY students teach skills such as turn taking with a football. This programme is important for many reasons not least the invaluable connections created by bringing the local schools together, demonstrating the importance of social inclusion in action.
The programme has been running successfully for 8 years and its success wouldn’t be possible without the fantastic support we get from all the staff in the Holy Family School, the CBS TY co-ordinator, Mary Mulroe and the St. Mary’s TY co-ordinator Yvonne O’Keeffe.
Charleville AFC would like to acknowledge the huge role our child welfare officer Eileen Quealey O’Connell has had in “football for all” since its first introduction to the Holy Family School way back in 2011. A highly experienced coach with Charleville AFC, Eileen brought this knowledge into her new coaching role bringing the very best out of the students from St Marys and the CBS as each year the students entering the TY programme would volunteer to come down and coach the students from the Holy Family School in the sport we love. Just like everyone else who takes up soccer for the first time friendships have been formed between the students of all 3 schools over the years. None of this would have been possible without Eileen’s drive and dedication to the programme. So much time goes into the programme behind the scenes in preparation so everything runs smoothly each and every Wednesday morning when the students from the 3 schools assemble. We take this opportunity to say “thank you Eileen” for being the football for all coordinator, coaching the kids and giving your time so freely. We hope the programme will continue for many years to come.