Tarxien Rainbows FC has become the first football club in Malta to introduce a training group programme for children with special needs.
Fun, increasing self-confidence and the improvement of football skills are the focus of the Maltese Premier League club's initiative, a scheme which at the moment involves six boys aged between six and nine suffering from Down's Syndrome.
The programme was the brainchild of the Tarxien Rainbows FC Youth Nursery. "Adam George Barbara, a learning support assistant by profession, informed me of a child he works with who wanted to play football at all costs," coach Norbert Bugeja told UEFA.com. "His parents had already found a club for their child, but now the big task was finding a coach.
"I immediately decided to contact the club and sent in my CV. Later that week I met the child, Jordan Farrugia, together with his parents and Tony Cassar, the president of Tarxien Rainbows. I was offered the job straight away and started coaching children aged six to nine who were complete beginners to football."
"We started this project last October with two sessions a week and only two boys," said Cassar. "We are all pleased to say that in such a short time the number today is already six boys and expected to rise."
The programme forms part of the Tarxien club's youth nursery, which boasts over 300 children in four different male and female age groups. "The aim of the programme is to see these boys integrate slowly with the other nursery kids and learn shooting and other football skills," added Mark Aquilina, secretary of the youth nursery. "I am sure that this project will be a great success and a big asset to the Maltese community."
Summing up this inspirational scheme, Bugeja said: "Blessed with wonderful characters, our group really is fun all the way."
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