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Adapted Kicks: Inclusion Through Soccer

Two pictures side by side. One of a youngster around 8 years old, with Down syndrome, holding a thumbs up. He is wearing soccer gear. The other photo shows kids practicing soccer.

Inclusive communities means inclusive soccer fields!

BC Disability

September 10th, 2023

Richmond United Soccer Club's Adapted Kicks program uses soccer to build community inclusion and friendship.

Learn more about the program which gives youth with disabilities the opportunity to pursue their dreams on the field.

The Missing Link

The Richmond United Soccer Club prided itself on providing a welcoming atmosphere for youngsters to cleat up and enjoy the world's most popular sport, so much so that inclusion was the most recent addition to the club's pillars, the others being excellence, fun, fairness, respect, and leadership.

However, a few years ago Gita Manhas, one of the club's board directors, realized that it still wasn't making space for everyone on the soccer field.

That's when the idea came to her.

To better meet the needs of all youth and families in the community, Manhas helped spearhead the Adapted Kicks soccer program, which caters specifically to the abilities of individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities.

"Adapted sports programs can provide many benefits that contribute to a person's physical, social, and all-around quality of life and well-being.”

“By accommodating recreation activities to the goals of the individual, more youth are able to

successfully participate in soccer programming, promoting self-confidence and self-worth,

while also providing them an opportunity to lead healthy and active lifestyles.”

A young woman in black, with long black hair, smiling.

Gita Manhas helped develop Adapted Kicks

Hitting The Field

Adapted Kicks soon became a reality, and after resounding success now enters another season.

Practices are held weekly, with players ranging from 5 to 18-years-old. Split into teams by age, the youngsters develop their soccer skills, build their fitness, and learn about the importance of teamwork, both on and off the field.

Adapted Kicks players make friends and work on their skills

Ball handling, dribbling, goalie and shooting skills are among those they hone, before breaking off into groups for mini games. Program leaders are also working to expand the activities, to include friendly matches with other adapted teams.

Adapted Kicks continues evolving to create more opportunities for youth with disabilities to play soccer. It reflects the belief that everyone should be able to enjoy the sport, regardless of needs or abilities.

And for Gita and the Richmond United Soccer Club, that's what it's all about.

To learn more about Adapted Kicks and to register for the program, visit


Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to!


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