By David Gold

The FA_and_Special_Olympics_GB_Sign_MOU_At_WembleyDecember 17 - The Football Association (FA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Special Olympics Great Britain to encourage the inclusion and participation of those with learning disabilities in football.

The FA launched the country's first national disability football programme in 1999, and this deal highlights their commitment to inclusion of all regardless of ability.

Their Football Development Strategy and Disability Football Strategy also seeks to integrate disability football into the mainstream.

The FA's National Disability Development Manager Jeff Davis 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."

Special Olympics GB chief executive Karen Wallin added: "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."

The FA_and_Special_Olympics_Signing_at_Wembley
The MoU was inspired by an invitation-only roundtable last year led by Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and Lawrie McMenemy (pictured above centre), the former Southampton and Sunderland manager who is the President of Special Olympics GB, to put disability football on the national agenda.

Included in the MoU is a commitment to register FA member footballers with learning disabilities with Special Olympics GB, as well as offering all players with such a disability the chance to take part in regular learning disability specific competition.

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