Football Supporters Club

Dundalk Football Supporters Club

Organisation    RehabCare Resource Centre, Quayside Business Park, Dundalk.
Target Group    From age 17 to 65.  
This programme was indentified as a goal through our members Person Centred Planning. Football was a great source of interest for our members. They had expressed a real desire to go to a football game but were not independent to do so and their families were not in a position to support them. 
Dundalk Football Club play in the premier league of Ireland. This involves home and away matches. A staff member contacted Dundalk Football Club and asked about our members joining the Supporters Club. The Supporters club organise trips to away games by bus or train. They travel as a group. 
The Staff member explained to the coordinator of the supporters club about the members Person Centred Plan. Areas discussed were risk assessments, level of disability and independence. The coordinator of the supporters club came to the RehabCare Centre to meet our members. A plan was put in place to meet everyones needs. The plan centred around meeting times and departure and arrival home of bus. Contact numbers of staff, family and friends were exchanged. Once the plans were agreed all parties were happy for the members to join the supporters club. 
As part of the RehabCare strategic planning the HSE New Directions is being followed. An aim of New Directions is for members to integrate and participate in their local community. Through the football club members have a regular social engagement in the community without RehabCare staff. On match days (Friday) members attend the RehabCare centre, go to the cinema, go for something to eat and then get the bus to the away game. Their social outings also apply to local Dundalk Games. The bus holds 52 people and the craic and camaraderie around football is good. They are also making new friends that they could meet regularly around their local town. Through the football the group have got to see the whole of Ireland. They have gone to games in Derry, Cork, Galway and Dublin. Some of these journeys would be a 300 Km round trip. 
As a result of how successful the Supporter Club is some members of our other RehabCare Centre in Dundalk have joined the Supporter Club. There are RehabCare Centres in locations where there are other football clubs and members could follow the example of the members in Dundalk. This does not just apply to soccer. It could apply to a wide variety of other sporting activities including golf and rugby as an example. 
An excellent example of how joining the supporters club is working was at the last home game of the 2014 season in front of 6000 people Dundalk Supporters Club awarded the RehabCare Members a glass trophy for being the best away supporters of the season. The award was made in the centre of the football pitch at half-time. The crowd acknowledged it with a loud applause. This had a tremendous impact on our members confidence and recognition in the community. An article appeared in our local newspapers highlighting the achievements and the success of how the programme is working. This paper can be bought all around the local county and also looked at on the web. Another testament to the success of the Supporters Club is that the players and officials came to visit the Centre with three trophies that they had won in that season. This is a way of bringing the community into the centre to see the work of RehabCare for people with disability. 
This project is a new way of thinking as members are included in the club as equals and don’t need staff support. 
Partners Dundalk Football Club, RehabCare.
Staff and Resources   Once the people joined the supporter club RehabCare staff didn’t need to be involved. 
Duration From February to October each year.  
Budget Cost covered by the member (ticket, bus, food).
Contact /more information  Stephen Caraher:

More information at: