This study provides insight into an inclusive program between Special Olympics (SO) and academy football (soccer) players in the United Kingdom from the perspectives of players and facilitators. Qualitative focus groups were conducted across 30 participants (six facilitators, 14 Premier League academy players, and 10 SO players). Focus groups compared stakeholders’ experiences of participating in a season-long inclusive football program. Three overarching higher order themes were generated, which highlighted positive outcomes from taking part. SO players provided endorsement for developing friendships and improving football skills, whereas academy players cited the positive impact that SO players had on their mood and motivation. Facilitators reflected on positive player outcomes and subsequent accomplishments. Overall, the findings indicated that this shared experience had psychosocial and football-specific benefits for everyone who participated. Facilitators indicated that these benefits could transition into everyday life but noted that there needs to be further considerations for future programs.
|Journal||Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly|
|Early online date||25 Mar 2023|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 25 Mar 2023|