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Across England, there are lots of impairment-specific formats that don’t have an international governing body, national team, national league or classification system. These opportunities tend to be more festival-based. Let’s take a closer look.

Learning Disability Football
Learning disability football is a format of football exclusively for people with a learning disability (LD).

LD players can (and do) play mainstream, pan-disability, and LD-specific football. Learning disability is usually the most represented impairment group within pan-disability football.

There are three eligibility criteria which must be met for a player to be eligible to play LD specific football:

·    The person must have an IQ of 75 or below

·    The person must have limited ‘adaptive behaviour’ which means they might need help with everyday tasks, for example cooking or travelling by public transport

·    The learning disability must have occurred before the age of 18

Domestically, at a grassroots level, there are a range of competitions available that vary across 5-a-side to 11-a-side football formats. In addition to this, there are a range of various local, regional and national competitions held by organisations such as Mencap and Special Olympics GB.

Down’s Syndrome Football
This tends to be 5-a-side in format, with friendly festivals held across England. Down’s syndrome represents an increased risk of neck instability so players with Down’s syndrome shouldn’t head the ball.

Players with Down’s syndrome often participate in pan-disability football as well.

Mental Health Football
There are several mental health-specific football teams in England. They play in pan-disability or mental health specific leagues. Festivals also take place across the country, varying from 5-a-side to 11-a-side.

One in four adults is affected by a diagnosable mental health issue each year. The FA have a set of resources for coaches that explain how to spot warning signs and provide support. You can access them HERE.

Dwarfism Football

Coordinated by the Dwarf Sports Association UK, this format is for those with a restricted growth condition. Players with restricted growth conditions often will also play pan-disability football.
Click here to access the Find Football tool and answer the questions to narrow down your search requirements so you can discover the most suitable playing opportunities local to you.  

If you cannot find a suitable playing opportunity or would like to speak to someone, please contact your local County FA.