Spartans FC - Sheffield's Special Olympics Football initiative

Clink on the links below to see detail of the following articles:

  1. Spartans win the South Yorkshire Ability Counts title

  2. Spartans Tournament November 2017

  3. Spartans help Y&H to Bronze Medal

  4. The Spartans prepare for the Special Olympics 2017 with Billy Sharp

  5. Spartans and Mansfield Town win at Goals

  6. Spartans 2015 Tournament

  7. Spartans in Spain

  8. Spartans get help from the Blades Super Draw League for their trip to Malaga

  9. Spartans first tournament win

  10. Spartans Tournament 2014

  11. Leeds 2014

  12. Cleethorpes 2014

  13. The Blades Invite the Spartans - 22 Feb 2014

  14. Spartans and Wendy at the Special Olympics GB 2013

  15. The Spartans Tournament 2013

  16. New Support for the Spartans

  17. The Spartans wave the flags at Bramall Lane

  18. The Spartans become GB internationals in Denmark and come home with Silver Medals

  19. The Spartans  Tournament 2012

  20. The Spartans  Tournament 2011

  21. The Spartans  Tournament 2010

  22. The Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA's Ability Counts Tournament 2010

  23. The Spartans v Doncaster at the E.I.S.

  24. The Spartans at Bramall Lane

  25. The Spartans begin

11 MAY 2018 - Spartans win the Championship - The Spartans have won the South Yorkshire Ability Counts 5-a-side Championship. They were unbeaten all season to take their first trophy since joining the League 7 years ago. They are picture right with the trophy and medals.

5 NOV 2017 - Spartans take their tournament - The Spartans held a tournament on Sunday 5 Nov at the Sheffield Goals centre and they came away from it as winners, pipping Pontefract Colliers on goal difference. Almost 50 players took part along with Spartans and the Colliers with teams from Sheffield City Knights, Bradford City and Doncaster Titans. Every team played each other, but everyone taking part were the winners. Below from left to right are The Spartans with Bradford Ciity; with Doncaster Titans; with their medals and collecting the trophy.

14 AUG - Spartans take Bronze - Three of the Spartans players, Paul Stylianou, Jake Sharp and Sam Hayward, took a glorious Bronze medal in the football tournament at the Special Olympics in Sheffield, while another Spartan player, Matt Stokoe's team came 4th.

Group matches were played over 3 days and despite losing all their matches on the first day, the Yorks & Humber side improved significantly on the 2nd day, and a last minute equaliser in the last group match put them into the Bronze Medal match against SE Region on the last day. South East region, had beaten Y&H during the group stage and they took an early 2 goal advantage, but Y&H pulled back a goal in the first half and added 2 more to lead in the second half. SE equalised to take the match into extra -time and would have won it but for 2 crucial saves by Paul Stylianou late in the game. Spartans player Jake Sharp put Y&H ahead deep into added time of the first period of extra time and the team added 2 more goals during the second period of added time. The Y&H defence marshalled by Sam Hayward made sure there was no way back for SE. Wild emotional celebrations ensued that were witnessed by TV cameras from ITV Calender news who were filming the match . It was a tough week physically, emotionally and mentally, but lads proved that despite their disabilities that football is a level playing field for all. Pictured left with their Bronze Medals is Jake Ford, Sam Hayward and Paul Stylianou. The 4th player in the middle photo is Matt Stokoe, while the 3rd phot shows the whole Y&H squad.

31-JULY - Spartans get ready for the Special Olympics - The Sheffield Special Olympics football team, the Spartans, will have four players in the Yorksire & Humberside squad playing in the forthcoming Special Olympics to be played in Sheffield and which is due to have its opening ceremony at Bramall Lane on Tuesday, 8 August. The Blades skipper Billy Sharp is an ambassador for the games and Billy together with some of his Blades team mates recently met the Spartans to offer them their support - see pictures below. Picture 1 shows Billy having a game of beach football with them; Picture 2 shows Billy with the shirt he donated; Picture 3 includes fellow Blades James Hanson, Chris Basham and Jake Wright; Pictures 4 & 5 include Blades keeper Jake Eastwood, who gave his Spartans counterpart Paul Stylianou a set of his signed goalkeeper gloves to use in the tournament. The football games will be at the Hallam Sports Centre , Bawtry Rd on 9 &10th August 11.00-19.00 on 10th and 09.00-16.00 on 11th. The opening ceremony at Bramall Lane on 8 August has a variety of entertainment, which is headlined by Tony Hadley, Toseland and Britains Got Talent's Kyle Tomlinson, while the presenters are Downtown Abbey's Jim Carter, TV presenter Suzi Perry and the legendary ex-Blade  Chris Kamara - tickets, available to purchase at Bramall Lane, are just 8 for adults, 6 for seniors and disabled and 5 for under 16s and students.



31-May - Spartans & Mansfield Town come out on top at Goals - Sheffield's Special Olympics team the Spartans held a mini tournament at Goals in Sheffield in May and their efforts were rewarded as they were one of two winners. The teams involved included Spartans, Mansfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster Titans, with the two group winners, Spartans and Mansfield Town, each receiving trophies from Oliver Hurd, the manager of Goals Centre.







21 June - Spartans 2015 Tournament - The 2015 Tournament which featured 20 teams. In addition to the Spartans, there was teams from Merseyside, Cheshire, Harrogate, Pontefract, Barnsley, Thorne, Doncaster City Knights, Norfolk Lodge Lions and Sheffield Wednesday. Pictured right is the Spartans in action against Barnsley.


21 June - Spartans in Spain - The Spartans made their first ever club trip abroad to play in Spain. They had a training session with their Estepona opponents before playing a match against them. The Spartans also made a visit to the Malaga Stadium and later saw Malaga entertain Seville in La Liga, with Seville winning a thriller 3-2. The trip, made possible with the help of the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA, the Special Olympics organisation and the Blades Super Draw League, was a fantastic experience for the Spartans. Pictured below are some of the Spartans at Malaga Stadium along with pictures from their game with Estepona.


28-Feb 2015 Spartans to go International - This summer the Spartans will undertake a short tour to Malaga, Spain, where they will play some games and get the chance to meet counterparts in Spain. To help them on their way, the Blades Super Draw League has made a small donation towards their costs. Pictured handing over the cheque to some of the Spartans squad is the Blades Super Draw League Chairman, Keith Firminger.

July 2014 - Spartans win their first tournament - Since their formation in 2009, the Spartans first ever tournament win came at Harrogate. They came out on top against teams from Harrogate, Cleethorpes, Bradford, Northumberland and Thorne.

June 2014 - Spartans play host with the Special Olympics and the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA - The Spartans second tournament was their own, organised with the help of both the Special Olympics organisation and the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA. The University of Sheffield staged the tournament at the Goodwin Sports Centre, where Wendy Stevens and her team of helpers from Leicester University (pictured far left) provided health screening for all the 18 participating teams. Along with the Spartans, the 18 included Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield Mencap, Rotherham Mencap, Merseyside, Harrogate, Pontefract and Doncaster.


May 2014 - Spartans visit Leeds - The Spartans stayed overnight for the first time when they visited Leeds. On a very full Saturday they visited the Leeds Canal Basin, the Leeds Armouries and a farm before all going out together on Saturday night. On the Sunday they played against Leeds United DFC - a game enjoyed by all.


May 2014 - Spartans at Cleethorpes - The Spartans first tournament during the summer of 2014 took place at Cleethorpes, where they took part in a triangular contest with their hosts Cleethorpes and Harrogate. Although the Spartans didn't win the tournament, their performances still earned them a trophy - see below:

22 Feb 2014 - Blades invite the Spartans - Spartans players were invited by SUFC Community Foundation Disability Group to a training session with some of their players and others from the Derek Dooley Academy at the U Mix centre prior to last Saturday's match . All the players with families and friends were also invited to the match versus Bristol City, where they saw the Blades win 3-0.

18 Sept 2013 - Wendy helps out at the Special Olympics - At the recent national Special Olympics GB held at Bath University, the League's Discipline Manager Mike Stylianou attended with his son Paul and some of the Spartans along with a number of Sheffield athletes representing Yorkshire and Humberside. 30 athletes returned to Sheffield with 44 medals, competing in football ,athletics and swimming. During the events Mike bumped into The Park's secretary Wendy Stevens, who was volunteering her time to support the Healthy Athletes Programme, which provided health screenings and information to over 1700 athletes. Mike (right) and Wendy (centre) are pictured with some of the Y&H competitors.

30 Jun 2013 - The Spartans Tournament 2013 - The Spartans Tournament, held at the Sheffield University's Goodwin Sports Centre in glorious sunshine saw the Yorks & Humber Special Olympics squad (pictured 1st left below) start their preparations for the Great Britain Special Olympics event in Bath by lifting the Section C trophy. Derek Dooley FC took the Section A trophy and Sheffield Wednesday the Section B trophy, but the real winners were all the competitors that took part with boundless enthusiasm and sportsmanship that was a real example to all sportsman from any sport. Also pictured below is action from Derek Dooley FC - in dark blue - against Frickley (2nd left) and against Pontefract (3rd left). Also pictured is the Frickley squad. More pictures now added.

4 Jun 2013 - The Spartans Tournament 2013 set for Sunday 30 June at the Goodwin Sports Centre - The annual Spartans Tournament in 2013 is set for the Goodwin Sports Centre, Sheffield on Sunday 30 June. The Spartans are set to be joined by teams from Merseyside, Wrexham, Pontefract, Harrogate, Thorne, Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield Mencap and the Yorks & Humber Special Olympics representative side. The action will start at 11am.

4 Jun 2013 - New Support for the Spartans - Two Sheffield businessmen, Tim Palmer and John Allen, have become new supporters of the Spartans by donating funds to help some of the players represent the Yorkshire & Humberside Region at the Great Britain Special Olympics at Bath University later this summer. Some of the funds will also go towards taking the Spartans on their first trip abroad for a Disability Tournament in 2014. Tim (left) and John (right) are pictured with the Spartans and their coaches, Mike Stylianou and John Hunt.

13-Apr - Spartans wave the flags at Bramall Lane - The Spartans were invited to be the Blades official flag bearers at United's game with Swindon Town. The lads all enjoyed United's hospitality and had a great day.

The Spartans represent Great Britain in Denmark

Not many local players can say they have represented Great Britain at football, but three of the Spartans can now boast that achievement after they became Great Britain internationals when they were selected to play for the GB Special Olympics squad that took part in a tournament in Denmark.

Sam Hayward, Paul Stylianou and Niall Guite, pictured right with their helper John Hunt all made their GB debuts in the tournament and well as the host country, GB were joined by Russia, Switzerland, Belgium, Hungary, Malta, Iceland and Poland, but a terrific effort by all the squad saw the Spartans and their team mates come home with Silver Medals.

Right is a picture of the whole squad and below is action showing Paul Stylianou going close with a free kick and later, Paul is shown turning after scoring from close range. Also shown is Sam Hayward trying to make his presence felt at a corner.

Further below is individual pictures of the three players with their medals.


The Spartans  Tournament 2012 - It's Tyke that as Barnsley do the double

On Sunday 1 July 2012 the Spartans third annual tournament at the Sheffield University Warminster Road grounds saw Barnsley win both the A and the B Group competitions. Barnsley were joined in Group A by Frickley A & B, Merseyside, Cleethorpes A, Sheffield FC A and Sheffield Wednesday A & B and the although five teams all reached double figures in points, the Tykes A team were beaten just once to take the Group.

Group B was a similar story as Barnsley B came out on top against their hosts the Spartans, Thorne, Cleethorpes B, Mencap's Norfolk Lodge Lions A & B, Wednesday C and Sheffield FC B. The Spartans may well have done better had they not had Paul Stylianou, Niall Guite and Sam Hayward on international duty with the GB Special Olympics team in Copenhagen in a tournament that included Germany, Denmark and Belgium, but there was no disguising that Barnsley were worthy winners. Pictured right is the victorious Barnsley A & B squads

All the competitors received a medal, while the winners were presented with their trophies by Adrian Hankin of Sheffield University, who once again provided a great venue for the tournament. Adrian, in the white shirt, is pictured with the Barnsley squad right and the squads from the Spartans, Frickley and Wednesday below. At the end of the tournament the everyone held a minutes applause in honour of the founder of disabled football in Sheffield, Leceint Edwards after he passed away recently. His son, Leceint junior, said his dad would have been just as proud of the moment as he was when he received two awards from the Queen through his work with Cerebral Palsy. A picture of Leceint junior with the organiser Mike Stylianou during the minutes applause is shown below along with a picture of all the competitors and action from some of the games:

The Spartans  Tournament 2011

On Sunday 26 June 2011, the Spartans staged their second annual tournament at the Sheffield University Warminster Road grounds where teams from as far away as Stirling in Scotland, Merseyside, Cleethorpes, Pontefract, Barnsley, Thorne and Fickley were joined by Sheffield FC, Sheffield Wednesday and the Spartans. The 'A' tournament was won by Merseyside, while Barnsley 'B' were winners of the 'B' tournament, although everyone that took part were winners by proving that football really is a game that anyone can play and enjoy. Organiser Mike Stylianou (pictured right with some of the Spartans squad and helpers) had plenty of praise for all the participants and the helpers and was particularly grateful to the University and groundsman Adrian Hankin and his staff. Mike thanked the volunteers from Laycock Sports, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Blades Super Draw League, while Mike was also very grateful for the contributions from local football equipment specialists twentytwo, DB Sports and Kitlocker. Below is action from the tournament:


The Spartans  Tournament 2010

On Saturday 28 August, starting at 12:00, the Spartans stage their first tournament at the Sheffield University Warminster Road grounds and it can be classed as an international tournament with a team from the West of Scotland taking part. As well as the Spartans, the Scots are joined by Thorne from Doncaster, Pontefract Pirates and Cleethorpes Town. It should be a good warm-up for the Spartans as they prepare for their first ever season in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Ability Counts League in 2010-11.

Action from the tournament is below. The A & B finals were both won by the A & B teams from Scotland, but everyone saw this first Spartans Tournament as a great success. The Spartans are very grateful to all the participants and helpers, and to Sheffield University for their hospitality and help at Warminster Road. A raffle, including a football signed by all the people that had presented the Blades Super Draw League's Merit Award presenters helped to raise 200, which the Spartans will use to provide the team with waterproof tops for the forthcoming season.


The Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA's Ability Counts Tournament 2010

During the summer of 2010 the Spartans took part in the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA's Ability Counts Tournament at the Sheffield Wednesday Academy. Six teams took part, Sheffield Wednesday 'A' & 'B', Rotherham Dynamoes 'A' & 'B', Frickley Foxes and the Spartans and the Spartans picked up their first ever medals (see picture bottom right)after coming runners-up in the 'B' Final - a great achievement by a team that has little experience of tournaments. The Spartans will be taking part in the Ability Counts League in the 2010-11 season.

The Spartans v Doncaster at the E.I.S.

Sporting their new kit, funded by The Football Foundation (pictured left), Spartans FC's had their first friendly matches against Doncaster at the EIS (English Institute of Sport) in Sheffield recently.

It was a great experience for the team against more experienced opponents. In the games the Spartans lost 6-2 to the Doncaster 'A' team and 6-0 to the Doncaster 'B' team, but the results were much less important than just taking part

Pictured right and below is some action from the games and the two squads.

The Spartans at Bramall Lane

Mick Rooker, Sheffield United's Blades Super Draw promotions manager invited the Spartans to the Blades' recent game at home against QPR.

Mick has been impressed by the way the Spartan's are developing and, along with the Blades Super Draw League, is doing what he can to help promote the Spartans and the work being done on their behalf.

Everyone had a great day out and the Spartans and their helpers would like to thank Mick and his staff for their support and encouragement. Mick is pictured right with the Spartans.

More pictures from the day are shown below:




The Spartans begin

The Special Olympics movement has been active in Sheffield since the City hosted the National Games in 1993. Participation has increased steadily through the years with clubs being set up to allow people to train in swimming, athletics and basketball and in September 2009 a new Special Olympics football club was formed Spartans FC.

Although they have built up a solid core of players and coaches (below, left, are some of the participants and helpers) they are looking for further people to participate and for opportunities to compete against teams of similar abilities.

If you know someone who would like to take part, please contact Mike Stylianou on 07799065469 for details.

Along with Sheffield United's Blades Super Draw, the Blades Super Draw League contributed towards the project's start up costs and the Blades Super Draw Sunday Sports League is further helping to promote the Spartans FC project with publicity via its website - so watch out for updates. The League has also donated an autographed football bearing the signatures of Bryan Robson, Steve Coppell, Ray Wilkins, Paul Merson, Brian Laws, Dario Gradi, Danny Webber, Phil Jagielka and many others, and it is hoped the ball will help to raise further funds for the project. Below right is the League Chairman Keith Firminger, presenting the ball to some of the Spartans players. More information about the Special Olympics is below.

Special Olympics Great Britain

Special Olympics Great Britain is a charity that provides year-round sports training and competition to children and adults with learning disabilities. It offers the opportunity for those who participate to develop their physical fitness and motor skills, while achieving greater self-confidence and a more positive self-image.

Special Olympics is founded on the belief that people with a learning disability can, with proper coaching and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports, adapted as necessary to meet their individual needs. 

The Special Olympics movement believes that through sports training and competition, people with a learning disability benefit physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Families are strengthened and the community at large, both through participation and observation, is united with people with a learning disability in an environment of equality, respect and acceptance. 

SOGB National Game, Leicester 2009

The Special Olympics Leicester National Summer Games that took place from the 25th to the 31st July 2009 in Leicester was the largest multi-sport event held in GB in 2009. In all some 2,700 athletes competed in 21 sports as well as 1,200 coaches, 1,500 volunteers and 6,000 families.  

A squad from Sheffield made up of 40 athletes and coaches took part in the Leicester Games. The triumphant athletes, with ages ranging from 14 to 55, returned to Sheffield with 23 gold, 15 silver and 16 bronze medals.  The medals were awarded in athletics, basketball, cycling, powerlifting and swimming events.