This year’s Special Schools' Cup, staged by the Irish FA Foundation in partnership with business advisory firm BDO NI, was a huge success.
The five-a-side football tournament for pupils with a learning disability saw more than 100 players compete at Lagan Valley Leisureplex in Lisburn.
Roddensvale of Larne won both the Year 8-10 and 11-plus age categories – a remarkable achievement for the school and one which the pupils and staff celebrated in style.
The special schools that took part on the day included Glenveagh (Belfast), Riverside (Antrim), Castle Tower (Ballymena), Roddensvale (Larne), Ceara (Lurgan), Hillcroft (Newtownabbey), Rathore (Newry), Parkview (Lisburn) and Tor Bank (Dundonald).
Alan Crooks, Disability Football Development Manager with the Irish FA Foundation, was pleased to see the return of the event.
He said: “It was a fantastic day for all teams involved. Congratulations to Roddensvale taking home both cups. It’s so important to make football accessible for all and seeing so many kids enjoying themselves was a testament to that.”
Laura Jackson, Audit Partner at BDO NI, said: “It was great to see so many schools competing in what is an important sporting initiative for those with learning disabilities who want the opportunity to take part in competitive sport. The benefits of team sports can be transformative for young people, advancing social skills, health and wellbeing, confidence and independence at a critical age in their development.”
It was the first year that BDO NI sponsored the competition, and Laura added: “BDO NI looks forward to continuing this collaboration with the Irish FA and supporting more young people in their pursuit of personal development and sports participation.”