Nic Coward: The power of football to build a better future for all

From a speech by the FA's director of corporate and legal affairs to the CBI-Disability Rights Commission conference
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The Independent Online

We have a simple vision at the Football Association: we want to use the power of football to build the best future for everyone. We want to encourage as many people as possible to participate in our game in whatever way suits them best.

The perception of the football industry is that it's very "old school". But we have made many changes in recent years. Our first task was to start to change the culture of football. When I started in the FA, eight years ago, blind football was not considered football. In the same way, 10 years ago women's football was not considered football. And 30 years ago even football on Sunday was not considered football!

We now have six England disability teams, including one world-champion team: the learning disability team. We have teams that will go from England to the Paralympics. After all, the priority of the FA is to create England teams.

We will use the leverage power of the England brand, the power of the FA, to drive awareness of disability sport. This year, for instance, we staged the England blind football championships.

That's all on the participation side. We also have a customer charter for all 92 of our clubs, which aims to improve the experience for customers with a disability. We provide braille programmes for our key matches and have a database of regular customers which we hope to pass on to our clubs.

We take our duties very seriously and I am sure there is something that we can all do to use the power of football to build a better future.

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