The association was formed in 1985, the brainchild of Paul Patterson. Together with an incredibly motivated and hard-working team, the organisation has been brought to the level that makes others around the world look up and take an awful lot of notice.
One of the key philosophies that makes JSAD work is that sport is for all, should be fun and participation at any standard is the main focus. Competition though is naturally encouraged and JSAD can boast Special Olympic world champions and a host of national titles.
In 1991 the association hosted its first Disability Games in Jersey and they have now become a major date in local and national sports diaries.
JSAD is now widely looked at nationally and even internationally as the trend setters in disability sport. Formally recognised in 2002 as a National Centre of Excellence in Pan Disability Sports Administration by Disability Sport England, the Association was also short listed to the last 255 organisations from an initial list of 1600 for the first awards under the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Community Service honours.
JSAD is also very committed to participating and competing away from Jersey. Over time, squads have been sent to England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Guernsey, The Isle of Wight, the Isle of Man, Gotland, France, Luxembourg, Orkney, Malta and the United States of America and an extensive set of international contacts has been established which can only further improve the options for the increasingly large local membership.
For all these achievements, Paul Patterson was awarded Jersey's Community Worker of the Year award in 2003. Then, barely a year later, came the news that Paul had been awarded the M.B.E. in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to disability sport in Jersey.
But Paul will emphasise that the JSAD is a registered charity and is staffed entirely by volunteers, many of which are themselves disabled. It is the level of commitment of this team that keeps JSAD on the road. Its team work and organisation is regularly remarked upon, often with envy, by visiting teams.
In 2002 the JSAD approached St Pauls FC with a view to providing coaching to a group of seven individuals with learning disabilities. Those original seven ranged in age and ability and despite these variances, the group bonded and encouraged each other, developing an ethos of fun and sportsmanship. Over the years the squad has grown and now numbers over 20 members between the age of 16 to 60, who have a variety of learning disabilities including Downs’ Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and head injuries.
The squad trains every Tuesday evening all year around, mostly using the indoors facilities at Les Ormes but also at St Pauls ground during the summer months. A training session usually consists of a warm-up, skills exercises and a game of football all of which keeps the individuals fitter, improves co-ordination and behaviour and develops teamwork. Every third Saturday the squad also gets together for an hour and a half of ‘fun’ football at Les Ormes. Coaching is provided by voluntary qualified coaches with the assistance of some students who have also gained valuable experience towards careers in welfare and medicine.
As there is very little opportunity for the squad to play games against teams of a similar ability it is necessary to take them off island and the squad is proud to represent Jersey. In the beginning the team exchanged visits with the Guernsey Learning Disabilities football team and then in 2006 and 2007 they took part in a competition in Manchester held at Manchester United’s old training ground ‘The Cliff’ against a number of local disability teams and gained valuable experience and an appetite to play in more competitive games. For the next five years they entered 5 a-side teams in the prestigious Harrogate annual Disabilities football tournament which attracts around 70 teams from all over the UK. The teams have steadily improved and this has been rewarded by being awarded gold and silver medals.
In 2013 the squad took part in the Great Britain Special Olympics in Bath. The teams played eight 5 a-side games each, over the course of three days, against teams from the other UK regions. The A team won the Gold medal in Group 3, a remarkable achievement.
The squad have always been without doubt a credit to the Island and will continue to travel to the UK and the coaches are keen to take up other opportunities which they have recently become aware of. In conjunction with the Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled the squad wish to encourage teams to come to Jersey to take part in the JSAD November games. It is also their wish to provide coaching to younger players, if the numbers can be found.
If you would like to know about the Learning Disability football in Jersey, please contact Gary Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further details please contact:
Paul Patterson MBE