LOCAL business advisory firm BDO NI has partnered with the Irish FA for this year’s Special Schools FA Cup – a five-a-side schools’ tournament for pupils with a learning disability.

The competition will see more than 150 pupils from schools across the region compete at Lagan Valley LeisurePlex, Lisburn, on Thursday, May 25, from 11am-1pm.

This is the first year that BDO NI have partnered to support the IFA Special Schools FA Cup.

The aim of the tournament is to create competitive opportunities for players to play matches and will involve two age group competitions – one for years 8 to 10 and one for years 11 and over.

“This initiative is a great opportunity for young people across Northern Ireland to play competitive football against players of similar ability,” said BDO NI Partner, Laura Jackson.

“The Irish FA has shown a real commitment to facilitating and encouraging participation in football for those with a range of learning disabilities and we are pleased to play our part through this corporate sponsorship.

“Team sports can play a critical role in the development of young people, and it is particularly important to ensure sustainable structures are in place to offer the same opportunities for young people with learning disabilities.

“A key element of delivering tailored youth competitions like this is the commitment and hard work of the volunteers.

“As part of our partnership, several members of the BDO NI team will be on hand on the day to provide volunteering support. We look forward to developing our partnership with the Irish FA through this exciting project.”

Alan Crooks, Development Manager, Disability Football for the Irish FA Foundation added: “We are delighted to start this partnership with BDO NI in hosting this event.

“This tournament gives young people the opportunity to play competitive football against players of similar ability.

“Having spoken to several of the competing schools, I know the pupils are really excited about the challenge of participating in the 2023 BDO Special Schools FA Cup.”

On the day, there will be 12 teams across both age groups will take part, playing across four pitches on the five-a-side pitches in the LeisurePlex in Lisburn.