Representatives of the footballing community came together at Wembley Stadium on 22nd November for the formal launch of “Every Player Counts” – the new WNST / EFL Trust initiative aimed at encouraging thousands more disabled people up and down the country to play football.
Staff from a number of the club community trusts from up and down the country that are being funded on the scheme were joined by former England international, Danny Mills and GB Paralympic football captain Jack Rutter, to demonstrate how the power of football can change people’s lives for the better. Following welcomes from EFL Trust Chief Executive, Mike Evans, and WNST Chairman, Lord Toby Harris, both Danny and Jack spoke about their personal experience of football and disability – each recounting life-changing episodes and how a re-connection with sport took their lives in new directions.
Guests were then given the opportunity to see disability football at first hand. Our thanks go to colleagues from Bolton Wanderers, Brighton & Hove Albion, Derby County and Reading FCs, who each brought a cohort of their disabled players to take part in a football demonstration, to show the skills and abilities required to compete in this aspect of the game. To make their day complete, the players enjoyed a tour of Wembley Stadium, as well as taking part in photo opportunities with Danny, Jack and other principal guests.
This £1m, three year programme, with grants funded by WNST and administered by EFL Trust, is supporting 25 EFL club community trusts across the country to run a wide range of disability football activities, including for people with learning difficulties, autism, physical disabilities, sensory impairments, amputees or who are wheelchair users. It is expected that in the first year alone, some 3,000 disabled people will take part in one of the projects, more than 30 new teams will be created and around 130 coaches will gain new qualifications.
More information about the grants awarded can be found here.