Coventry University to host second football ‘living lab’ for children with Cerebral Palsy with support from Birmingham County Football Association

Children with Cerebral Palsy playing football with balls and hoops on a football pitch with a team of coaches helping them.

The ‘living lab’ football event will help children with Cerebral Palsy enjoy more physical activity and become active for life.

Research news

Thursday 08 February 2024

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Coventry University will hold another ‘living lab’ football event for children with Cerebral Palsy to help them to enjoy more physical activity and to become active for life.

The event, which is free and open to children aged between five and 11, will build on the success of the university’s first ‘living lab’ football camp which was held last summer with community collaborator and stakeholder, Ambleside JFC. It was recognised by CP Sport and Birmingham County FA who are now supporting the upcoming event during February half term (Monday 12th Feb to Friday 16th Feb, 9am-12pm) at Coventry University Sports Centre, Alison Gingell building, near the city centre.

The participatory research will see the children come in to take part in sports science experiments not only as participants, but they will also have the chance to play the role of scientists as they will learn how the Living Lab works and how they contribute to the research. The event will include some practical sessions which the researchers will then ask questions about.

As well as providing a fun activity focused on football for the children, we're investigating physical literacy. If you want people to be physically active as children and to continue as they get older, you need to create a situation where they are competent, confident, motivated and enjoy movement skills. If you can do that for a child, then the idea is that they will continue to be active for life.

With this Living Lab, we are engineering a situation for children who are living with Cerebral Palsy because they have a different set of circumstances to typically developing children. Participants will include some children who can only walk with a frame and others who have callipers on their legs to help them to walk.

Michael Duncan, Centre Director for Coventry University’s Centre for Physical Activity, Sport and Exercise Sciences

When hearing about the Cerebral Palsy football event, it sounded amazing and was something the County FA was interested in being a part of.

Events like this one, that Ambleside JFC and Coventry University are hosting, have such positive impact for children with Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities and we will look to support the event by sourcing key resources like equipment or potential funding pots to provide additional support to the event as well as utilising our social media platforms to raise awareness and increase promotion within the regions we cover.

Ryan Kimberley, Disability Football Development Officer at the Birmingham County Football Association

We do something called a write, draw, show and tell task with the kids, which is because some of them are quite young and can't always answer questionnaires or they can't give you really robust responses to some psychometric questionnaires.

We have a technique where we ask the children questions and they draw a picture of what they think, and we’ll use that as a discussion point. We empower them to investigate the science behind movement and football as well as having fun playing football.

Michael Duncan, Centre Director for Coventry University’s Centre for Physical Activity, Sport and Exercise Sciences

The response since the last event has been very encouraging and we are excited to build upon the successes of last summer. The support of other organisations has really helped widen the reach of our work. I am looking forward to continuing to positively impacting the lives of the children involved, through this unique approach to both coaching and research.

Will Pattison, PhD Student, Centre for Physical Activity, Sport and Exercise Sciences

The February event will be bigger in terms of scale and have double the number of children participating compared to the previous event. The team, which includes Ricardo Martins and Matteo Crotti, who are post-doctorate students, will use the university’s lab spaces as well as the sports halls. The event will also be used as a development opportunity for other PhD students and undergraduates on the university’s BSC sports coaching course will also get experience related to their course.

If you would like to take part in this event, register now by emailing