Here comes Frame Football to Sweden – For the Joy of Movement!

On the first of June  the first trial ever of Frame Football came off at Frescati, Stockholm.Players from all over the country came to play under the guidance of Steve and John from the Frame Football Foundation, UK. A wonderful day for everyone with lots of energy. The Foundation provides the actual game frames and the tool that makes the game work. We are so happy to be a part of this journey! Go for it – for the joy of movement!

Read the inspiring story of  how everything began when Fredrik Qistberg’s eight year old  son one day said: Dad can’t I become  one of a team?

After the world championship success of the Swedish national football team, where they reached as far as the quarter finals, my eight year old son’s interest in football skyrocketed. Football is the only thing! He constantly wants to discuss what number on the football shirt he would wear and practises goal gestures in front of the TV. I have lost count of how many times we have staged Sweden – Mexico in our cellar.He is often Andreas Granqvist who takes up the ball and throws it to me, goalkeeper Ochoa.The penalty is successful every time and Granqvist shouts with joy with his team.
Penalty throw you notice, this must be a mistake, this is football not basket! You see my son has a CP injury and uses a wheelchair among other things to transport himself. He can’t stand up or walk himself but he can throw a penalty sitting on the floor. I got in touch with a couple of football clubs but the reply was of the character that unfortunately most parents with children who have functional variations will recognise. If you don’t fit into the mould everything will be difficult. The child’s functional variation is looked upon as a mere problem. It’s not about evil or malice, I hope, but a combination of a lack of knowledge and a fear of what is deviant, not following the norm.

After some futile trials I gave up and hoped the football interest would ebb out. But quite the opposite happened as interest in football increased. There was The FIFA TV game and football players collecting pictures and the constant question: Dad can’t I become  one of a team? On the Internet I found facts about frame football, a game that was developed in the UK and spread all over the country with its own series games and tournaments.

Frame football is played with a reversed roller called a walking frame. There is a lighter ball, a smaller pitch and part of the exercise can be individually adapted so that every player gets the chance to perform on his level. In a clip on youtube the physiotherapist Vicki Lambert explains what a wonderful form of training frame football is. 

My son sometimes uses a frame and we started trying. At first he was sceptical and rather wanted to play sitting on the floor. But step by step we found moments that worked.One of the most popular challenges  is the ghostball which is about passing by the ball /the ghost without touching it. Another challenge is kicking the bottle which is about kicking a bottle filled with gravel within the frame and using the ball. If you can’t make the bottle fall you may also use a foot.

Our family discussed starting our own team. We got in touch with  Mark Blake, one of the initiators of MIK – SOUND, one of Sweden’s first football teams for the visually impaired. His tip was to form a core squad team of players with supportive parents and to be prepared for the fact that it would take a lot of time. Since lack of time is a constant problem for families and especially for us with children with functional variations. So a serious reflection was needed. At last we decided to give it a try, for our son, for others in similar situations and to show that including instead of excluding is possible. Also those with severe functional obstacles will be offered  a chance to play football if they want.

In February we got in touch with the British Frame Football Foundation inviting them to come to Sweden to introduce the sport. They never hesitated and offered to send two coaches at their own expense to give an introduction day. We at once booked June 1 in Stockholm. The Brits’ generous attitude spread and after that everything got rolling. One friend provided an arena and a lecture hall, another sponsored new balls and the cooperation with the well established parasport club Nacka HI will result in a set training time in the autumn suitable for the players.

At the moment nine boys and girls aged between 4 and 12 have applied for the introduction day. Most of them have never exercised a sport. Of course we will welcome more participants. Further  information is to be found on our facebook site. In connection with our introduction day we offer the lecture Frame football  – A new way to play the beautiful game” open to everybody who is interested.

Research shows the fact that  children with functional variations don’t exercise sports as frequently as other children of the same age. Research also shows that it isn’t the functional variation itself that is the cause but the lack of understanding in those surrounding it. The demand for achievement is often too big or too small relative to the functional level.  Many more adapted activities for children with functional variations  are needed. There exist  a number of excellent initiatives even today  but it could be even better.

 Dad can’t I become  one of a team?

Fredrik Quistbergh, journalist, writer and the initiator of Sweden’s first frame football team.