The annual Lothian schools disability 5-a-side festival was held on Thursday 10th March and attracted 57 young people from three local authorities. Dunbar Grammar (East Lothian) participated for the first time, entering a impressive three teams while there were notable absences from experienced schools and previous winners such as Woodlands (Edinburgh), Donaldson’s and Cedarbank (both West Lothian).
The sun shone throughout the entire event and Portobello Powerleague provided the perfect setting for the festival, with pupils enjoying a skills station format during the morning and a more competitive element in the afternoon, battling it out for the trophies available on the day. The skills session provides the opportunity for the young people to develop their skills under the guidance of coaches from Street Soccer and the Scottish FA and builds upon the participatory event held in November. The afternoon session then provides an opportunity for all players to show their competitive side and play competitive 5-a-side matches against their peers from across the region. This event primarily focuses on grassroots participation but is also used as selection for the Scottish Disability Sport National competition on Wednesday 20th April in Glasgow where teams from around the country will attend.
Competition was evident throughout and schools played some eye catching football, with Dunbar Grammar securing victory in the S1/2 and S3+ sections ensuring they travelled back to East Lothian happy. The S3+ competition provided the platform for eight teams to compete against each other with two groups of four playing to secure a place in the semi final stage after a round robin format – Dunbar facing Musselburgh Grammar (East Lothian) and Kaimes (Edinburgh) playing West Calder (West Lothian), with Dunbar and West Calder progressing to the final where the East Lothian school comfortable won 3-0. The S1/2 competition was contested between the only two schools entered – both from Dunbar Grammar. This meant the school were all conquering on their first entry to the event.
The day was extremely well supported and continues to be a great partnership event between Lothian Disability Sport and Street Soccer, the football organisation kindly supplying a whole host of coaches to deliver the morning skill sessions which are always well received by the young people. The Scottish FA also provided their experienced coaches to support with the skill development of the young people and their input at these events are always greatly appreciated by all participants and organisers alike. This year also saw ten senior pupils from Royal High School (Edinburgh) come along and help with delivery, refereeing and generally provide enthusiasm and excellent support to all the young people involved on the day – many thanks to the school and the Active Schools Coordinators who made this happen and provided excellent help on the day.