An All Abilities soccer program is forming in Weyburn. In fact, it's the first in the province of its kind.

President of the Weyburn Soccer Association, Tyler Hillstead said the WSA began the process of developing the program by first consulting with Inclusion Weyburn and Special Olympics Weyburn. 

"We approached them with it, to get an idea of if they felt that there'd be enough families who would benefit from that, and obviously the answer was yes," he said. 

They've been able to receive guidance from Pickering Soccer Club in Ontario, who have been running an All Abilities Soccer program now for 10 years.

"I've been working very closely with them and they've been super, helping us get our program set up, helping us with coaching training, the program side of it and how to get volunteers and stuff like that," explained Hillstead. "So we developed a program based on what they were running Ontario and then we took it to both Inclusion Weyburn and Special Olympics and presented it to them, and they were ecstatic about it, and we're going to take it off from there."

He said the beautiful part about learning to coach soccer for all abilities is that coaching soccer is, well, coaching soccer.

"That's the beautiful part about our game, and that's what makes it very easy for us to offer this, is that soccer can be so adaptable, and it's so cheap to play soccer," he said. "You just need an open space, and a ball and a couple of nets. So now all we need to do is adapt to the disability, and still can make it fun, and they can still learn, and the kids can still develop and have fun and make friends."

Not only is this new program going to be the very first All Abilities Soccer program in the province, but it's also the first All Abilities program in any individual sport.

"The Saskatchewan Soccer Association is telling me there's no other soccer club out of Saskatchewan who has offered a program like this," noted Hillstead. "So there's been Special Olympics in soccer in Regina and Saskatoon, but that's all done through Special Olympics. There's ParaSport, as there's always been the individual disability, but no other club or anyone has offered an all abilities program like this before."

With the goal to be able to offer this fully free for all of the families at no charge, Hillstead said Sask Soccer has been very helpful with the new program.

"Sask Soccer has waived all fees for their end, as far as registration, and is still giving us the insurance," he shared. "As well, Cogent Business Consulting has stepped up and is paying for all of our facility rentals all winter long."

The program is offered to children ages five through 12, with a second group for ages 13 and up. Hillstead said the All Abilities participants will even have their own field for games.

"It's another program that's added to Weyburn Soccer, and they're fully included," he said. "There's going to be times we're going to bring our other programs and mingle the two, so that they're all playing together on the same field and practicing together and playing little fun games and stuff like that, so that you get that full inclusion and inter-mingle through all of our programming."

Hillstead explained they have special bumpers that attach to wheelchairs for ease of kicking. He added he has also been applying for grants for power wheelchairs to make it easier for the athletes.

"I'm working on getting it started, and I've applied for grants federally and provincially," he shared. "Hopefully, we can get some money raised and we can get some of this stuff, but the idea is that everybody can play, that's the beautiful thing about it."

For more information on becoming involved as a volunteer or having your child(ren) registered as a participant, visit the Weyburn Soccer Association website or call Tyler Hillstead at 306-861-7722.