Framing the future of football

Joanne Stephenson says Frame Football has been a hugely beneficial thing for her son Charlie to be involved in Joanne Stephenson says Frame Football has been a hugely beneficial thing for her son Charlie to be involved in
By Conor McParland

DREAMS can come true for boys and girls who suffer from physical disabilities to enjoy football thanks to a new version of the ‘beautiful game’.

Frame Football, launched at Loughside Recreation Centre on the Shore Road in January last year, currently has two coaching clinics at Lisburn Leisureplex and University of Ulster in Coleraine.

Joanne Stephenson, whose 10-year-old son Charlie is involved in the sport, said it was hard at first for him to adapt.

“Charlie was born with multiple congenital abnormalities and from my own experience, Frame Football has been a blessing for him,” she explained.

“He went from hating it, refusing to participate and being out of his comfort zone to loving it. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to persevere with him to get him to interact. He has been transformed now and is one of the star players scoring goals – it would make the hairs on your neck stand up.

“Frame Football has offered new friendships, physio on a level of fun, being able to learn football skills, social skills – the list goes on.

“Frame football has helped him have a place in life where he can make friends and got involved with the rest of the boys. There is no expectation. It’s all about getting them out and having fun. It allows boys and girls to participate in a very popular sport even though they have a physical disability and other medical conditions.

“It has been an amazing journey for all of us to see them participate in a sport they never believed possible.”

Joanne has recently started an online Crowdfunding appeal effort to help raise £2,500 towards a trip of a lifetime for seven boys to compete in a major tournament in Birmingham in March.

“My crowdfunding page is in relation to helping raise funds for all the kids currently involved in our Frame Football Team. We want to take them over to their first international tournament at St George’s Park in March. Some of our boys have never flown before.

“There is also the possibility of getting the boys to their first Premier League football game. Frame Football is football with a difference. It will be a surreal experience for the children to boost their confidence and self-esteem when they walk into a hall full of hundreds of children.

“This will be surreal for each and everyone involved. To walk into a hall with hundreds of kids in a similar situation to themselves, feel like part of a real team, gain the recognition they are over to support their own country is an achievement in itself.

“Disability is a daily struggle for all involved, especially the kids. Having the self-belief that they can play football like everyone else will give their self esteem a massive boost. The boys and girls all deserve credit for what they have achieved to date and we would like anyone who is willing to support our cause, help us help them have the trip of a life time and have many more to come.”

Joanne also believes that Frame Football is unknown to many and is trying to promote awareness of any child with a physical disability to play.

“I’m determined to make Frame Football grow. I want thousands of children to get involved.

“I would all urge all parents to encourage their children with a disability to give it a go. Come along and get involved.”

Frame Football currently runs in Lisburn Leisureplex every Saturday from 2pm to 3pm and at Ulster University Coleraine on Sunday from 1pm to 2pm.

To donate towards the trip, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/niframefootballtournament2017?utm_id=2&utm_term=X3JjZ2GY6

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