Allen and John are pleased to be able to offer space on the website
Afan Lido Dragons.
Special needs football team
Linking with paediatric therapists
The Afan Lido Dragons group has permission to
Publish for sale all photographs that appear on this page only
Afan Lido Dragons are a special needs football team with ages ranging from
The children are referred through the childrens centre at Neath Port Talbot Hospital, all have either a physical or learning disability.
Officially called therapy football, it is designed as an addition to the and mental development through physiotherapy and occupational therapy.It gives an opportunity for children with disabilities to play and feel part of a team setup, developing confidence and self esteem.
We play regular games against other similar teams,and numbers are growing constantly.
There are very few special needs teams in Wales at present,but it is growing and as one of the forerunners we are proud of what we have achieved.In order to raise funds to continue our work with the children, we are selling the following goods.
(1). Various views of old Port Talbot District.
A4 Framed at £4-99. each.
Larger Framed at £6-99.
(2). 2007 Picture Calendar of Port Talbot Past and Present at £3. each.
To order any of the framed Pictures contact the Club President Mr.Grahame Perry.
Mr.Grahame Perry will be expanding this page, it encludes a short history of their existance. But will also be used for news, events and as a base for the friends and families of the group.
My name is Grahame and I'm the president of AFAN LIDO DRAGONS, a voluntary organisation providing therapy football for children with special needs.
The "AFAN LIDO DRAGONS" were the first organisation to provide this therapy treatment in the whole of Wales and this is the history of that organisation.
Afan Lido Dragons was formed in 1998, but unlike other football clubs, which are formed with playing football in mind from the outset, the Dragons were formed not to provide these children with the opportunity to play football but to provide trampoline therapy.
In 1998 a trampoline therapy group was formed at Briton Ferry Special School by two physiotherapists, John Clifford and Vicky Stephenson who both worked at the Children’s Centre at Neath Hospital.
One of the lads who attended was Michael Harrington who was more interested in being given the chance to play football, and every week he made this wish known to John Clifford.
Because of his disability it was obvious that Michael would be unable to compete on a football field with able bodied lads and so after keeping on at John Clifford for some considerable time it was eventually decided to see if a disability football club could be formed.
An advertisement was placed in the local paper advertising for a football coach to coach these lads on a voluntary basis.
Malcolm Emerson, who lived in Margam at the time, saw the advert, offered his services, which were accepted, and although no one realised it at the time, “Afan Lido Dragons” was born.
Other youngsters joined and because Briton Ferry Special School had no facilities for football the group moved to Lon Llas Boys Club in 1999 where they could be coached by Mal Emerson indoors.
In 2000, after about a year at Lon Llas they moved again, this time to the Lido Sports Centre where once again they were coached by Mal Emerson and played on an indoor court.
By now the club had grown and the children wanted to progress to playing football outdoors on a proper football pitch.
But this in itself threw up more problems. Firstly they had no football pitch on which to play, and secondly as this was the first and only special needs football club in Wales there was no one to play against.
Fortunately things were soon to change.
In 2001 Heronsbridge Special School in Bridgend also formed a disability football group.
A match was arranged and Phil Robinson, the Director of Football at the Afan Lido Football Club was approached, and the use of the facilities of Afan Lido FC. Was put at the disposal of the Special Needs Group, who then affiliated to Afan Lido FC. And was renamed the “Afan Lido Dragons”.
For a while it remained a case of Lido Dragons versus Heronsbridge school, but in 2002 another breakthrough was made.
Although disability football was still almost unknown in Wales this was not the case in England where professional football clubs were fostering disability football in their communities.
One such club was Northampton Town who played in the same division in the football league as Swansea City.
Northampton Town FC. employed a person by the name of Russell Lewis as a "Football in the Community Officer"
Russell Lewis was originaly from Gwynfi and was familiar with Afan Lido FC,so it was arranged that when Northampton Town were playing at Swansea the disability team would travel down on the saturday, watch the game at the Vetch field, stay overnight and play against the Dragons on the sunday.
The match was played on the sunday which forged close links between the Lido Dragons and Northampton Town FC.
In 2004 Northhampton Town invited the Dragons to compete at their annual tournament, an invitation which was readily accepted.
To finance the trip which involved an overnight stay in Northampton, Francis Doyle, a postman and former Afan Lido player who, at the time was helping to coach the Dragons ran the Cardiff marathon and in doing so raised over £1,000 in sponsorship.
The Dragons travelled to Northampton on Sunday May 2nd.and the following day ,May day Monday played in their first ever tournament against other disabled children from a number of clubs including Northampton Town, Luton Town, Brighton & Hove Albion, Lincoln City and Brentford.
The Lido fielded two sides at Under 12's & Under 16's.
As we had never played in a competition before, as far as we were concerned we were just there to make up the numbers so no one was more suprised than us when we won both age groups, a tribute to all the hard work put in by the coaches.
Playing in this tournament led to an invitation to play in another tournament,the Bedworth European tournament which was taking place at Bedworth nr. Coventry a few months later.
Again we travelled to Bedworth the day before the tournament, and once again the Dragons were succesful and won that tournament.
This again led to another invitation, this time from Wolverhampton Wanderers to take part in their tournament.
Again we travelled the day before but this time we were not the only Welsh club taking part because by this time a club had been formed in Swansea-the Swansea Bravehearts.
The tournament was played at three age groups, under 12's, under 16,s and Senior level.
By the end of the tournament the English must have been fed up of the Welsh as once again the Dragons won the Under 12's & Under 16's with Swansea Bravehearts winning the Senior section.
In 2005 the Dragons staged their own tournament as by now other clubs had sprung up in South Wales.
As well as clubs from Swansea, Bridgend, Caerphilly and Newport, two English clubs, Chelsea & Wolverhampton also competed.
Chelsea won the Under 16's And the Dragons the Under 12's.
What was also very pleasing was that everyone was full of praise for the hospitality they received and the way the tournament was organised.
The Dragons have also competed every year at a Festival of Football at Heronsbridge School, Bridgend and have met with a lot of success at that tournament.
We also play at the Beach Festival and this year, 2006 we ran a tournament at the Festival which was attended by five other clubs from the South Wales area and which was sponsored by Sandfields First to whom we are very grateful.
At long last the Football Association of Wales have woken up to the fact that disabled football is now being played on a large scale in Wales, and an attempt is now being made to organise it properly.
We at Afan Lido Dragons are proud that we were the first in Wales to provide football coaching to children with disabilities, and all because a lad named Michael Harrington wanted to play football.
Whilst we are very proud of what these children have achieved lets not forget the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to enable a group like this to run smoothly.
For this we have to thank our football coaches and also our committee which consists of the mothers of some of the children who work tirelessly on their behalf.
Thanks must also go to everyone who sponsors us, both businesses and individuals without whose financial help it would be very difficult to keep going.
Every time we travel to England to play in a competition it costs approx. £1,000 for overnight accomodation, £700 to hire a coach for 2 days, and a couple of hundred pounds to take the children Ten pin bowling in the evening, a total cost of approx. £2,000 pounds each time.
This is why we are continually looking for sponsors and why we are selling the products advertised on this website, because without finance we would simply cease to exist, and the quality of life for these children would be much poorer.
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Tuesday,August 1st.2006 Mr. Grahame Perry has been granted permission by Mr.Dave Mitchell of www.aberavon.net Website,to place photographs on these Pages of the Afan Lido Dragons, part of aberavon-historical-friends website.
A link to Mr Dave Mitchell's Page