Ireland welcomes USA Down Syndrome Futsal squad to local training camp.

Photo Ireland squad:
Bltr:      Hughie Sweeney, Jamie Linden, Josh Hennessy (c), Fergus Cosgrove, David Crawford, Paul Smyth (Head coach)
Fltr:      Keigan Taylor, Cian Kelleher, Sean Toolin, Micheál McCloy, Daniel O’Reilly

Sport has been known to build bridges across nations, transcend cultures and bring people together. Great excitement is building in the local Down Syndrome sports community, as they look forward welcoming the USA Futsal team to the Emerald Isle.

Building on this, the Ireland and USA Down Syndrome Futsal Tour 2024 is due to kick off next week. County Meath will be the host of the first international tour of its kind.

Relations between the USA and Ireland have long been based on common ancestral ties and shared values. Hoping this tour will aid both teams in preparation for 2025 SUDS Futsal Championship for players with Down syndrome.

Ireland’s Down Syndrome Futsal team competed in the European Championships in Italy last September. The squad had a jam-packed week, playing 5 games in 4 days. Turkey, Italy and Portugal the more seasoned teams had to stand their ground against the newcomers.

Futsal is a form of five-aside indoor football played with a smaller, heavier ball than football and is an ideal sport for Ireland as it is played from October to March.

This will be the first international participation for the USA squad, an affiliate of US Soccer, since they came together early 2023.

The USA’s mixed gender squad consists of 8 players and 8 Irish squad players substituted by 2 upcoming development players will train at Gormanston Park for the week of 20th -24th May.

Mark Trevor, Vice President of Down Syndrome Sports of America commented: “We are absolutely honoured and thrilled to be invited by Ireland’s Down Syndrome Futsal team to train and compete with them in the Emerald Isle. Our players and coaches are looking forward to what will be a tremendous experience, i’m sure, both on and off the pitch!”

Captain of the Irish team, Josh Hennessy, is looking forward to train with the USA and making new friends with both players and coaches.

Futsal for players in Ireland is developing at a steady pace and those involved hope to foster a Futsal community both locally and internationally.

“A week like this, offers a lifetime of experiences to our players. Making new friends, improve their football skills and work towards barrier free sport for players with disabilities.” said DSI Louth Meath branch Sport coordinator Tessa van Heerden.