Get Involved shows you to stay playing football, regardless of your age, situation and ability

Last Updated: 28/01/13 8:30am

Sky Sports News has been showing you how to get involved in football over recent weeks, but on Saturday's show we will be telling you how to stay in it.

Neither age nor disability should stop you playing football.

To prove it, Get Involved tracked down two projects in Scotland playing vital roles in ensuring that 'the beautiful game' remains accessible to all.

Celtic's 'Ability Counts' programme, launched in 2010, allows children with Down's syndrome to play football on a weekly basis in a fun but challenging environment that improves their fitness and social skills.

It has proved so popular that it has attracted kids from all over Scotland and, as a result, been widely praised for giving children a chance to play and be part of a team that they might otherwise have missed out on. To find out more click here.

Celtic partnership manager Donna-Marie Henry explained: "It's about bringing sport to all, bringing football to all and also helping with diet, nutrition and flexibility - so overall well-being."

David McArdle, SFA Disability Development Officer, added: "It's not a tick-box exercise. It's not something that's nice to do to give them an opportunity - it's actually something that's really worthwhile and has got a pathway.

"They could go to a World Championship or a Paralympics, or just have more opportunities to play with their friends."

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Another scheme in Scotland - Walking Football - has re-introduced older men and women to the game when they thought their playing days might be behind them.

This format, in which you are penalised if you jog or run, is getting Scottish over-50s out on the park and improving their close control, vision and passing abilities.

Keith Wright, SFA Development Officer, said: "The guys who come on to this programme love it because they are at an age where they thought that their football days had passed them by.

"They come in here and it's walking only. Any player that runs, the other team get a free-kick."


Football remains immensely popular with children, but there has been a drop-off in participation levels amongst people in the 16-25 age bracket - something the FA is trying to alter.

Sport England's latest figures show that fewer people in their early 30s play football than those in their early 20s, but if someone is playing football in their early 30s, there's a 90 per cent chance they'll still be playing at the age of 40. This age group has the highest retention rate.

The figures also show that if you're playing at the age of 40, there's an 85 per cent chance that you'll still be playing at 50.

The Just Play initiative, seen at venues like Stanmore College in north west London, allows players to turn up as and when they are able and to play a brand of the game that suits them best, whether that be a casual kick-about or a more competitive five or 11-a-side game.

Click here for more information on Just Play.

Mike Daisy, Stanmore College Development Coach, explained: "Maybe the thought of running up and down, getting hot and sweaty, might not appeal to them.

"The ones out there today are the ones who want to participate, so I don't think we should put any barriers to prevent them from participating."

The lesson is clear - football is fun and it's worth staying involved in, no matter your age or disability.