Across the country disability football is ever progressing and in the Scottish FA’s North Region there is no exception.

With the continuing success of the North Region Disability performance squad and school festivals, as well as the growth of power chair football in the area, it is no surprise that Claire McDonald, Scottish Disability Sport Regional Manager for Grampian, is pleased with the progress that has been made in partnership with the Scottish FA.

“The North Region disability performance squads have been in place for a number of years now to address a gap in participation due to the fact that talented players they may not be able to continue in mainstream football," she told the Scottish FA website.

"The disability performance squad is therefore in place to allow them to continue participating at a level suitable to their needs.

“This is done by having a smaller number of players involved in sessions and having coaches in place who have experience in disability sport. Because of the success of the squad, we’ve had a number of players that have gone on to represent the national team.

“We also recognised a year ago that there was a need to offer participation for those with cerebral palsy at this level. Therefore we now have a pan-disability squad to allow for participation for people with varying disabilities.”

Claire was also clear to point out the importance of partnerships throughout all of the major projects in the region. For example, the school festivals have been supported by Scottish Highland Football League clubs such as Cove Rangers, Inverurie Locos and Deveronvale FC.

She said: “Their support allows us to run three festivals in a year across this region, with one in Aberdeen, Inverurie and Banff. These events allow players with a disability to participate and represent their schools. It is also a chance for players to potentially represent the north region as the top two schools from the regional league are invited to attend the national finals at Ravenscraig.

“We also realised that these events were for secondary school pupils only and perhaps it was a large jump for players who might be participating at this level for the first time. So we’ve now created a primary school partnership with Aberdeen FC to introduce these sorts of events from a younger age.”

Another area of progress for disability football in the region is power chair football.

“We all have a vision to make football accessible for all and the creation of power chair football sessions was a huge part of that," she said. 

"We now have two sessions per month and by 2015 we are hopeful to join the National League to allow players to participate in competitive games.

“It should certainly be noted as well that Marcus Brown has been instrumental in helping making this happen. He’s an incredible volunteer and was awarded the Volunteer in Disability Football Award at the 2014 North Region Grassroots Awards.

“On top of Marcus’ time and effort, we also received funding which meant we were able to purchase size 11 footballs and strikers that attach to the chairs. This equipment is key and that funding has helped make it possible.”

As well, Claire noted that the region is constantly striving to make football accessible for all and is hopeful to continue their progress in 2015.

She said: “We are looking at the moment to create opportunities for those with sensory disabilities in partnership with Aberdeen FC and the Scottish FA. Training needs to be put in place though before we can make this happen, but we are certainly hopeful that this opportunity will be possible for next year.”