Even in this most difficult year, we want to celebrate the work that the sporting community does to support disabled people and to help them get fit and active. We know that sports participation rates amongst disabled people are far lower than for their non-disabled peers and we all need to work together urgently to change this.
Our five year “Every Player Counts” programme is working with the Club Community Trusts of EFL football clubs to bring to joy of playing football to people with a wide range of physical and sensory impairments, learning disabilities and mental health issues. To date, well over 13,000 people have taken part in one of the hundreds of projects we have funded – from Blackpool to Plymouth, Sunderland to Southend and many towns and cities in between. We know that football really does have the power to change lives and the impact of someone’s participation can be profound.
We know that 2020 has been so hard for everyone in so many ways. Disabled people have been particularly badly affected having to shield and isolate themselves from friends and family. Clubs are working tremendously hard to get projects up and running again, when it is safe to do so and we thank them so much for all their car and attention.
You can find details of all the projects we are currently funding here:
Meanwhile, here are just a couple of the fantastic examples of the work we have been supporting:
Cambridge United Community Trust
The community team at Cambridge United (CUCT) cover a large area of East Anglia, a part of the country with scattered towns and villages, which can make it difficult for disabled people to find and access the activities they are looking for. CUCT therefore runs projects in venues across the county, encouraging participants of all abilities.
Jasmine, one of CUCT Frame Footballers, who has started walking for the first time since coming to our sessions. Her coach, Phil Mullen says: “The sessions encourage Jasmine’s balance, co-ordination, agility and motor skills and I couldn’t be more delighted with the progress she’s made. She came for the first time in around September and we were so pleased that we have managed to create a little group of Amber Army Frame Footballers!”
Her family told us: “Jasmine has started frame football this season. She has absolutely loved it, as is Summer (her sister), who joins in the session as well. Amazing team, amazing coach. For anyone out there who is using a frame or walking aids, this is ideal. So much fun! Lots of socialising with others which is so very important. We’re so pleased we found it.”
Millwall Community Trust
Joseph now attends weekly football sessions at the MCT Lions Centre. He has grown in confidence as a player, particularly in his development of teamwork. This has translated into his ability to travel to and from the sessions independently and contributes as a player to the session. He’s also prepared to step in and help other participants in their struggle in understanding certain aspects of the game. Joseph also now represents MCT in regular monthly football tournaments organised by the South London Special League. The impact that the programme has had on Joseph stretches far beyond what happens on the football pitch.
MCT’s Community Development Manager Richard White told us: “Joseph has developed a high level of self-reliance. I often bump into him at lunch time in the Lions Centre where he spends some leisure time with two fellow participants prior to the start of the session. He likes to engage with staff about football topics and I look forward to the football rivalry banter that we share when he’s in the building. I hope he continues to enjoy attending the session and playing a part in our local community.”