A critical analysis of the opportunities and challenges of integrating disability football in Northern Ireland

Aaron Crossin, P J Kitchin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


On average, disabled people in Northern Ireland (NI), spend half the amount of time engaged in sport than the average nondisabled adult.

Compounding this, disabled people have been marginalised from sports clubs throughout NI.

Recently however, there has been some developments in addressing this situation.

A lack of research exists on managerial perspectives toward the integration of disabled people in sports clubs.

The purpose of our study is to explore the experiences, opportunities and challenges that managers face when seeking integration in Northern Irish football.

Using organizational capacity as our theoretical lens we interviewed managers in various N.I. football clubs that were developing integration programmes.

As with other studies in this area we reveal that accommodation, more than integration provides an accurate picture of current practice. However, resource issues are significant.

Our findings suggest that human and structural capacity dimensions created significant barriers for clubs.

From the outset, the lack of a clear rationale for integration to occur hampered efforts. Nevertheless, where integration did occur it was linked to the brand (intellectual resource) of the football club that impacted positively on management’s efforts.

This study provides a local and welcome contribution to both the literature on the integration of disability sport while providing practical recommendations for sport managers in resource-constrained organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFootball, Politics and Popular Culture: Football Collective Conference Limerick 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Nov 2017


  • inclusion
  • Sport and Marginalisation
  • integration
  • Football


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