Sport for Confidence: Football helps adults re-engage

Sport for Confidence CIC has partnered with Colchester United Football Club to deliver inclusive football sessions for adults who face barriers to participation in sport and physical activity.

The programme also offers participants a chance to take part in an Employability Skills Programme focused on supporting individuals keen to find employment opportunities.

Sophie Garratt, Occupational Therapist and programme lead at Sport for Confidence, commented: “Official statistics report that the UK employment rate for disabled people is just 47.2%, compared with a rate of 80.3% for non-disabled people. We hope, through this initiative, we can work with our participants, building their confidence and providing them with the skills and tools they will need to help them join or re-join the workforce.”


The programme is currently running outdoors at Shrub End Community Sport Centre on a Monday afternoon and will relocate to the indoor sports hall at Leisure World Colchester as soon as the Government confirms leisure centres can re-open indoor activities.

Sophie added: “At the moment we are focused on drill-based exercises to ensure compliance with Covid-19 social distancing and engagement rules. We currently have 12 participants signed up. If anyone is interested in joining us, we would love to hear from them.”

The weekly sessions start on the field of play, with coaches from Colchester United and Sport for Confidence running a range of drills and activities. The emphasis is always on fun, enjoyment and skill development rather than competition and performance. A Sport For Confidence occupational therapist ensures all participants are included and supported in the achievement of their own personal goals.

Before the start of each football session, participants are offered an opportunity to take part in an occupational therapy lead workshop focused on employability skills and confidence-building. During the football session, participants are then encouraged to practise their learnings, for example working on time management as the referee, working on planning skills by coaching the warm-up or building communication skills by being the team captain. Following the programme, the occupational therapists will support the participants to find and access employability opportunities in the community.


Sessions are funded by Active Colchester and form part of the Prevention and Enablement Model (PEM) – a 12-month ‘test and learn’, Local Delivery Pilot (LPD) funded by Essex County Council, Adult Social Care and Active Essex. Sport for Confidence has been appointed as the project’s special delivery partner, with Colchester United Football Club commissioned to support on the delivery of this specific programme.

Tom Tayler, Community Development Manager for Colchester United, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Sport for Confidence as part of their employability skills programme for those adults who may face barriers to participation. Through our various strands of work we know the power that sport has to engage, motivate and inspire and we believe this collaboration will be another fantastic example of this.

“Here at Colchester United Football in the Community we have been steadily expanding our inclusive sports offer over the last few years and we are really pleased that this can become part of our wider engagement to marginalised groups to see us working with adult participants.”

The programme is open to anybody who faces barriers to physical activity, especially those from marginalised groups who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. In addition to the collaboration with community organisations, many individuals in the community have been supporting the group through kind donations of goods such as football boots and training apparel.

Visit the Sport for Confidence page on the ConnectSport directory. To add your organisation for free, email