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Football trains Special Needs teachers

A vast majority of the children and adults play Football with their friends, at school and also socially. The main reason they play is to have fun while at the same time benefiting from increased health and well being.
Now, thanks to the FFS Just Play programme, people with intellectual disabilities and special needs in Samoa will also be able to enjoy and benefit from playing football. The Football Federation Samoa in partnership Special Olympics Samoa and Special Olympics NZ has just conducted a two-day ‘Just Play’ course.
Taking part in this course are teachers and volunteers from Special needs schools, volunteers and staff from Special Olympics Samoa and families of special needs athletes in Samoa. After this course they will be able to teach football related skills like passing, dribbling and shooting to their students.
FFS Technical Director Tunoa Lui and Just Play Development Officer Nadia Malifa conducted the course. They were also assisted by Jan and Graeme Aitken who have been involved with Special Needs children in New Zealand.
Jan is a sports coordinator for Special Olympics in the Lower South Island of New Zealand. Husband Graeme is also involved in New Zealand coaching special needs children Football. Together they have a 20 year old son with an intellectual disability who competes for both athletics and football in NZ.
During the opening of the course FFS Acting CEO Sarai Bareman explained that football could be played by anyone, even people with Special Needs; “One of the greatest things about football is that it can be played by virtually anybody. Through the Social Responsibility Department of the FFS, we have recognized that football is a powerful tool which can bring together communities, promote health and wellbeing and raise awareness of the many issues that face our people today”.
At the conclusion of the two-day course the participants were given teaching manuals, balls, cones and bibs that they will be able to use when conducting coaching activities with Special Needs participants.
In six weeks time the FFS will host two tournaments in conjunction with Special Olympics Samoa, one in Savaii and one in Upolu. All the volunteers, teachers and athletes from the Just Play Special Needs Course will come together and use their newfound football skills to compete and participate in games and fun football activities.
The Motto of Special Olympics is: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”. Currently in Samoa there are over 3000 children and adults with an intellectual disability.