The Football Association and Special Olympics Great Britain have signed a deal to encourage more people with learning disabilities to play football, regardless of their ability. The organisations signed a memorandum of understanding, which includes pledges to:

  • Establish a common vision for the future development of learning disability football within England
  • Register current member FA footballers with a learning disability with Special Olympics GB to give them access into the Sp [caption id="attachment_1645" align="alignright" width="300" caption="(l-r) Karen Wallin (chief executive, Special Olympics GB), Lawrie McMenamy (president, Special Olympics GB) and Jeff Davis (FA national disability development manager) signing the memorandum of understanding"][/caption] ecial Olympics GB competition structure, based on joint accreditation
  • Offer all footballers with a learning disability in England the opportunity to take part in regular learning disability-specific competition at local and regional levels, and at national and international levels across Special Olympics GB, all banded into ability levels
  • Ensure each accredited Special Olympics GB football group has a minimum of one qualified FA Level 1 football coach involved in its regular training sessions.

Jeff Davis, the FA national disability development manager, said: "Both the FA and Special Olympics are committed to ensuring that anyone who wants to play can play no matter of their ability level. This understanding will help to create a player pathway from local to international competition for our current and future learning disabled footballers."

Karen Wallin, chief executive of Special Olympics GB said, "The FA's membership will create fantastic additional competition opportunities for people with learning disabilities. Over the next three years we hope to double the number of footballers within our programme, and create an all-ability pathway from local levels upwards. Linking Special Olympics GB with County FA's will ensure that players with learning disabilities and their supporting volunteers or coaches are given a quality experience in football."