Futsal star Cian aims to represent Ireland at European Championships

Cian Kelleher of Mallow Utd Special Olympics Futsal team, who is part of the selection squad for the upcoming European Championships for athletes with Down Syndrome.

The national Down Syndrome Futsal team hopes to participate in the SUDS European Championships for athletes with Down Syndrome, to be held in Italy next September. This wonderful opportunity and exciting possibility is the result of a unique collaborative venture of FAI’s Football for All programme and Down Syndrome Ireland Louth Meath branch. These organisations have been working to develop Futsal among players with Down Syndrome in Ireland, resulting in a current 80-player pool spanning as far north as Co. Donegal and south to Co. Cork.  Fun and Talent Days as well as development evenings took place across various venues and locations, spearheaded by DSI volunteers and Disability Sport specialists, Tessa van Heerden and Sanet Jordaan.
Currently, 17 players have been identified for national selection, including Mallow United player Cian Kelleher, who is part of the national selection squad, receiving a certificate recently from head coach Paul Smyth to mark the achievement. Of the final 17 panel, eight athletes will have the opportunity to travel to, and participate in, international competition in Italy this September. The announcement of the Ireland National Futsal squad for players with Down Syndrome is due at the end of the month by head coach Paul Smyth.
This collaborative venture has provided positive experiences, showcasing the talent our young athletes have, developing their potential through fun and camaraderie, skill development and games. The development of Futsal for players with Down Syndrome and other disabilities in Ireland provides opportunities to build bridges, expand horizons, support and nurture athletes in pursuit of health, happiness and fulfilment. Waving the Irish flag in an international capacity is fast becoming a reality for a group of aspiring athletes with Down Syndrome, thanks to the dedication and commitment of some key people.
Public and businesses may pledge their support by donation or sponsorship towards this team’s international participation. All funding will be run through Down Syndrome Ireland Louth Meath branch as the charity partner.
If you would like more information or wish to support in any way, please contact DSI Louth Meath branch, secretarydsim@gmail.com footballforall@fai.ie or tessa.tsenya@gmail.com