The Special Needs Team
As a special club, SK Rapid also wants to include those players who want to pursue their favourite sport despite various impairments (visual or hearing impairments, as well as mental or physical impairments). That is why the SK Rapid Special Needs Team was founded in 2014 in cooperation with the Vienna Disabled Sports Association.
The SK Rapid Special Needs Team now consists of almost 30 players aged between 16 and 35, with both physical and mental deficits. The degree of handicaps varies in severity, although an important prerequisite for participation is, of course, the practice of the sport. "However, sporting ability is not the main factor in team selection. Identification with the club SK Rapid and the team are the most important selection criteria," says coach Jürgen Kerber: "Of course, the behaviour of each individual within the group, as well as fair play and team spirit were and are very important. With the SK Rapid Special Needs Team, we also focus on great discipline, after all, we are representing the Austrian record champion!
The project is designed to be sustainable and long-term. Since then, the team has taken part in domestic competitions and international tournaments, where they duel with handicapped teams from other countries. It was our managing director of SK Rapid Wirtschaftsbetriebe, Werner Kuhn, who made the first contact with those responsible and, together with the then head of the youth academy Peter Grechtshammer, thus gave SK Rapid another pioneering role. Other patrons of the team are managing director Christoph Peschek and record player, club legend and Rapid II asisstent coach Steffen Hofmann.
In order to continue to challenge the disabled Rapid players in the future, the so-called inclusion idea is held high: Both in the training sessions at the Happel Stadion training centre and in the competitions, the sport should also bring together junior players and players from our Special Needs Team. Joint training sessions have already been held and will provide the young players with further experience in every respect. Cooperation with Sportfreunde Purkersdorf, with whom we have already organised several charity tournaments, is just as beneficial.
Apart from the tournaments, the team meets once a week under the watchful eyes of the green and white youth coaches Jürgen Kerber (U18 Academy), Matias Costa (SNT management), Mario Rausch (athletics coach & sign language interpreter), Lukas Heger, Manfred Neumüller and Thomas Nachbargauer (physiotherapist) and holds its sessions. There is also a weekly training session for children between the ages of 6 and 13. If you would like to be part of the team and come along, just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Manager Matias Costa: "It doesn't matter what disability the players have. The most important requirements they have to bring along are team spirit, the fun of football and the opportunity to play the sport. To this end, I would like to cordially invite all football-loving people with disabilities to join us."