Club hopes to see more youngsters join Saturday football sessions

Published on: 07 Jun 2013

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It’s been another successful season for football coaching sessions offered to youngsters on the autistic spectrum – and organisers hope even more children will get involved in September.

Keynsham Town Football Club began offering Saturday morning training to youngsters from autism support charity Butterflies-Haven in 2011.

Keynsham Town FC development officer Martin Coles said: “The first few weeks saw a small group of children arriving on the Broadlands grass pitches and sessions were put on, not really knowing what would be best to deliver in terms of learning and fun. The sessions developed week on week and after a few months, we had a regular band of attendees and session plans that really seemed to work.”

The group moved on to training courts at the AJN Stadium at Keynsham Town FC for their second season last September.

Training has been overseen by Paul Gitsham, Richard Smale, Nick Dewfall and Martin Coles  with help from some of the club’s youth coaches and players, Kieron Govern, Joe Ryan, Louis Holmes, Lewis Morse, Louie Gitsham, Sam and Ben Sharp, while child welfare officer Maxine Sharp organised refreshments for parents and coaches.

Trisha Williams, founder of  Butterflies-Haven, said the charity was very grateful to the club for the opportunity it had provided its young members.

She said: “Our partnership with Keynsham Town Football Club has been a very positive one.This has allowed us to provide an opportunity for our children who otherwise would find being part of a team very daunting and has also opened up opportunities to improve social skills.

“A child with an autistic spectrum disorder often struggles to follow instructions and understand the rules of a sport but many of them love the idea of outdoor sports, especially football, and this includes girls.

“There is a great deal of appreciation to KTFC for giving their time so freely and wholeheartedly especially as the sessions have encouraged some very talented young players who might otherwise have been overlooked.”

Mr Coles added: “The one-hour sessions are full of fun and learning. Today, as we approach the end of another season, numbers have increased and we are hoping that when we start back in September, all will return and bring with them more children who want to be part of this great group of children.

“We are always looking to increase our membership for these sessions and would welcome any new members with similar disabilities. This initiative expands on the club’s commitment as an FA Charter Standard Community Club.”

For more information on the sessions, email martincoles@blueyonder.co.uk.

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