Margam YC Stags - the first club in Wales to provide frame football

December 08 2022

Meet John Heycock, the consultant social worker and football lover behind the creation of the Margam YC Stags - the first inclusive club in Wales to include frame football.

We caught up with John to learn more about the club and what motivated him to create it.  

 

What inspired you to create Margam YC Stags Inclusion Football club?

In 2017, I visited Bootle Football Club in Liverpool which commenced Inclusion Football in 2018. I realised that there was hardly anything in our area for children with disabilities to play football for a team. So, with support from Bootle, I decided to start Inclusion Football in our area. 

We held our first training session in April 2019. For the first year, we held weekly training sessions where our numbers were between 10 and 12 players. In three years, we have gone from around 10 children registered to 80. 

With help from our volunteer media team, Richard Blake and Mark Thomas, April saw our Inclusion Awareness month on social media. We took the opportunity to promote what we aimed to achieve in the long term for children with learning difficulties, physical difficulties, autism, Down's syndrome, cerebral palsy and low self-esteem.  

 

Can you tell us a bit more about frame football? 

Frame football is an adapted form of football for people who have restricted mobility and would normally use a walker or crutches. It enables children, young people, and adults to play football with ambulant or able-bodied players. 

Whilst we currently have children with cerebral palsy, all except one do not need a frame. It is that one child that made me realise, more children could attend if we had the equipment to allow them to. So, we purchased 6 frames to allow children to play frame football. 

young girl using walking frame smiling at camera

 

What is the age requirement and how do young people living with cerebral palsy get involved?  

Our age requirement is 5+. We aim to allow everyone, whatever their challenges, to play football. Just get in touch and they will be welcome to attend. We will adapt any sessions to allow everyone to be involved.  

However, we aim to have sessions solely for frame football once we have enough attending. We are also looking to start wheelchair rugby. But this is a time away yet. 

 

Have there been any highlights that stand out for you? 

Every minute has been special. There have been so many highlights.  

In 2020, we appeared on BBC Wales news when we welcomed our friends from Bootle Bucks Inclusion FC. This was a massive day for our club and plans were in place to raise our profile and welcome new members to our Inclusion Football. 

Another one of my personal favourite moments was our trip to Bootle Bucks Inclusion FC tournament in August 2021. This was a wonderful event for the children and to top everything, our children even won a cup final in their very first tournament. 

Last November, I also had the personal honour of receiving the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the year Unsung Hero Award. This was quite emotional and something I will never forget. 

And to round off this year we also completed the 170 Mile walk from Wrexham to Swansea raising an amazing £6500. I would like to thank everyone who donated and special thanks to Wrexham, Shrewsbury Town, Hereford, Newport County, Cardiff City and Swansea City for welcoming us to their grounds. We are truly grateful. 

children playing football

 

What’s next? 

Our aim now is to keep increasing opportunities for our children and we hope to do more activities for the families such as cinema visits, day trips, anything that will give everyone an opportunity to experience new enjoyable things. 

We are also building our membership weekly and as a result have outgrown our venue. So, our next project is a to build a community multi-purpose indoor venue to allow our children to enjoy sport all year round. Over the next few weeks, we are keeping a look out for answers to our consultation questions as to what the community would like this new venue to include. 

 

Is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers? 

We also offer support to parents, and every so often we will go out for a parent meal that is paid for. Also, we organise a younger group that is more about games and exercise than just football. 

team photo of Margam Stags

 

If you would like to find out more about Margam YC Stags, or know of someone who would love to join in, please contact: John Heycock on margamycstagsinclusionfootball@gmail.com or 07506403642.

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