SNAPP-A-ROOS: Building inclusivity within soccer

Written by Caitlin Pace

The SNAPP-A-ROOS Training Squad is giving children with special needs the opportunity to participate in skills and drills soccer sessions in an effort to strengthen inclusivity within mainstream soccer.

The training program, organised by Michelle Punter, works alongside the Special Needs Ability Program Providers (SNAPP) soccer program as a way to give children with disabilities the opportunity to get involved in physical activity and develop their social skills during the football off-season.

“We look at not only football skills, but also some physical fundamental movement skills,” Mrs Punter said. “We look at balance, coordination, jumping, as well as football skills like learning to dribble a ball and how to kick a ball.”

Delivered by accredited soccer coaches and volunteers, the Thursday night training sessions run alongside the Chipping Norton FC Chargers training squad and engage in soccer-based drills including ladder runs, balance obstacles, free kicks, and of course, a game of soccer.

With a lack of sports and social services available for children with additional needs, Lucy Reggio, founder of SNAPP, stresses the importance of building a strong, safe and inclusive environment for children to participate in physical and social activities.

“It’s all about inclusion and giving people with a disability the chance to be in an inclusive community and be able to participate in recreational and social events like any other person.” Mrs Reggio said.

But aside from being a fun activity for the kids, Mrs Reggio said that the parents can also benefit from getting involved with the program.

“Parents can build a network and find out about services, products and strategies that they can use for their families and it makes them feel like they’re not alone in this world.” She said.

With only a small group of participants, Mrs Punter hopes that other teams in Southern Districts will host a similar initiative in their own clubs.