Tyne Met College’s LD football team will have already been considered one of the favourites for gold at this year’s National Championships, as a mainstay of the event and 2014 champions. But they are likely to prove an even more formidable force thanks to the excellent work done by both Durham and Northumberland FA.
The two organisations have been increasing provision in the area through the North East Colleges Disability League, which has complimented the sessions students take part in through their normal college environment.
The league sees teams meet once a month to play competitive fixtures and this season sides from 10 different organisations – including Tyne Met – have been involved, raising the number of LD players and giving them a wider experience of competitive football.
Previously, there was no education-based provision for LD players outside of their own college environments and Durham FA’s Children and Young People Football Development Officer, Kieren Laverick, believes the experience could prove a huge benefit to Tyne Met’s team at the National Championships.
“The experience of being in this league will support Tyne Met’s efforts in the National Championships as it has given the players the opportunity to play in competitive fixtures in a number of different environments, testing their abilities against teams from across two counties that they may not have the opportunity to play against otherwise,” he said.
The evidence already points towards a possible gold medal for the side coached by Geoff McKnight alongside coaches from the Newcastle United Foundation, after they cruised through their regional tournament with a 100% winning record.
And Geoff agrees with Kieren’s assessment that the new disability league will bolster the team’s chances of replicating their 2014 success.
“The league is a fantastic incentive to the team, they take it very seriously and talk about it all the time,” he said. “It is also a great encouragement for them in the classroom, giving them something to focus on when their work gets on top of them. It also creates a great team ethos amongst them.”