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Sport NI Project of the Year

Futsal for All scores SportMaker Project of the Year award

Omagh and Fermanagh’s Futsal for All has been named Project of Year in Sport NI’s SportMaker awards. The SportMaker Project of the Year award recognises a project or programme which uses high quality coaching, officiating and/or volunteering as a means of enabling more people to benefit from the power of sport.

Futsal for All started as a men’s only team but has rapidly expanded providing over 850 participants across various age groups, gender, and ethnic minorities with free access to sport. Inclusion is at the heart of the project which aims to provide opportunities for everyone to participate in futsal. The club has launched an academy for boys and girls aged 6-16, a disability programme, a schools programme, an open session for refugee and ethnic minority support groups, a women’s section, a teenage programme to combat anti-social behaviour and an over 35’s programme.

Sport NI surprised Martin Cassidy, chairman at Omagh Futsal Club who run Futsal For All, at a session with their award. He said: “Futsal for All started post COVID. We looked at the structure of our club, we wanted to make it more sustainable, more community friendly. We started reaching boys and girls and then to others in our community including refugees.

“Our latest project is our disability project, and at Futsal for All we wanted to reach out to everyone in our community and we are doing that step by step.

Rhonda Clarke, a parent of one of the children attending the Futsal for All disability sessions said: “There’s not many things for people with learning disabilities in the West. So Omagh Futsal Club has given us something extra to look forward to on Monday nights. It’s great to make new friends, for the parents also. It’s very important.”

Gareth Porter from the Irish Football Association added: “Martin (Cassidy) and David (Alonso) are super. They have got a real passion along with dedication and commitment to just help people grow, not as futsal players but from a social aspect. To have people like that as a role model for people in this area is brilliant.”

The project has also provided development opportunities within the club for coaching, officiating, and volunteering. The club has delivered several coaching courses such as the IFA Introductory Award, IFA Level 1 Award, Referee Introductory Award and all of these were free for participants. Providing these courses has enhanced the sport of Futsal in Northern Ireland but also created a foundation for the project for be able to be sustainable and thrive in the future.

Martin concluded: “We come here and see the smiles in these faces and that gives us the motivationto keep going. Awards help us to get funding, to be more sustainable, to keep running these programmes. It’s amazing. Thank you very much to Sport NI.”

Richard Archibald, Interim CEO, Sport NI congratulated Futsal for All on their award: “Our

SportMaker Awards celebrate the coaches, officials, volunteers and projects who go that extra mile to make sport happen in their local communities.

“Futsal For All is a truly inclusive project which is breaking down the barriers to participating in sport for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds and has transformed the lives of over 850 people. “Congratulations to everyone involved at Futsal for All – You are SportMakers!” The Sport NI SportMaker Awards give the sporting community the opportunity to showcase their achievements and give special thanks to coaches, officials and volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make sport happen. There are 12 award categories recognising achievement at all levels of sports participation, from grassroots through to high performance.

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