The first mixed/all ability soccer club in Ireland is in Kerry.
Tralee Gladiators, which are based in the KDL, is made up of men and women, people with and without disabilities, all playing and running the club together.
Tadhg McMullen of Tralee Gladiators spoke on Terrace Talk this evening
We are a new soccer club that got started last year, we are the first Mixed/All Ability soccer club in the country, our name is Tralee Gladiators and we are based at the KDL in Tralee.
By Mixed/All ability we mean that the team is made up of men and women, people with and without disabilities (intellectual and/or physical) playing together and running the club together. The idea has come from International Mixed Ability Sports https://www.mixedabilitysports.org/ , while we have no direct connection with IMAS we have adopted their principles and are expanding on them. We are working with IMAS and will do so more over the next few months and years to develop the idea as it does not exist here yet and is only in its infancy in soccer in the UK.
We are independent and have no other interests other than to provide people access to playing sports in a club, people who may not feel like they have access now because of their disability , age , fitness etc. This model hopefully will go some way to opening up sports to a whole section of people that have for one reason or others not fitted into the mainstream system.
Our eventual aim is that most clubs will have a mixed or all ability team within their club structure, we worked with Killarney Celtic to establish one there and hope to expand the idea. We have backing from numerous disability sectors, Cope Foundation-Terence McSweeney, National institution for Disability Studies, John Regan Killarney District League, Inclusion Ireland to name a few.
I have attached our club constitution, the front summary page should give you a good idea on what we are about.
We have been liaising with the FAI over the past year, and they are interested in our model, but understandably we need to show them how it works first before they will consider developing a league, they will be visiting our club soon to understand more about it.
We would love if you would consider including us in your news or sports programming by way of an interview, this would help spread the idea and help open minds to what is possible for sports clubs.
There is one other mixed ability club in Ireland which is Sundays Well in Cork, its is a mixed ability rugby team. They have established that this model can work, we are now taking this into soccer. Soccer may even suit this model even better than rugby as the rules are easier and skill level required is less.
We have resumed training and everything is going really well, we have 30 + members and seem to have new players every week which is brilliant.
I'm certain it's a model that could be replicated and would bring in huge numbers into the game. If in a small town like Tralee during Covid without any advertising we have 30+ members, there is clearly a need for something like this in soccer and sport.