Deaf Awareness Week 2018 (14th-20th May)

Between the 14th-20th May, it is Deaf Awareness Week, a unique campaign in that so many different organisations participate, each able to promote their own work within the broad spectrum of deafness.

In the UK there are around 9 million people who are deaf and hard of hearing, yet each day we continually put one of our most important senses at risk. Loss of hearing can cause people to become isolated and lonely, having a tremendous affect on both their social and working life.

EFL Trust supports #DeafAwarenessWeek, as our clubs do fantastic work in this area using the power of football to break down barriers and increase sports participation for all.

Through Every Player Counts, our landmark project formed in September 2016 thanks to a 1.1M donation from Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST), a number of clubs offer individual programmes covering a wide range of disabilities including hearing and visual impairment, learning difficulties, amputees and autism, giving many disabled people access to football for the first time.

Reading FC are a prime example, after forming a Deaf Football team in 2013 with the help of Total Communication, one of the leading British Sign Language (BSL) agencies.

After an initial 10 weeks of taster sessions, Reading FC Deaf were integrated into local 7 aside football festivals and began competing in the BOBi League – a pan-disability league that operates across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Since then, the team has attracted more players and has developed into an 11 a-side squad, playing in competitions such as the South English Deaf League, The FA Disability Cup, and The FA County Cup.

After a few successful years on the pitch, Reading FC Deaf have won 7 trophies and finished runners-up after making their debut in the FA People’s Cup finals this this year at St George’s Park.

Due to the success, the team have been able to develop a number of talented players who have gone on to represent England and Great Britain Deaf Football teams.

Daniel Rook, Reading FC Community Trust’s My Ability Programme Manager said: “It’s fantastic that we have had so much success in attracting the deaf community in Berkshire to be a part of the Reading FC Deaf team.

“The strength of this provision shows that disability football is a growing sport not only in Berkshire but across the whole country.”

How football clubs across Europe can improve social inclusion

The English Football League Trust are please to be able to share the results of Pan-European project sharing best practice on how football clubs can improve social inclusion in their communities.  

The EPMIMT project was developed through support and co-funding from the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

The aims of the project were to create a set of freely accessible online resources for anyone involved in sport-based social inclusion activities.  The project specifically looked at the development and impact of ‘street leagues’  in various European countries including Spain, Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands.  Street leagues involve taking football into locations in the heart of communities suffering from a range of social issues and working with young people in danger of being involved in anti-social behaviour.    

The project was delivered in partnership with the Bundesliga-Stiftung (Germany), The Football Association of Ireland, the European Football for Development Network, the Fundación del Fútbol Profesional (Spain), Gargzdu futbolas (Lithuania), the Scottish Professional Football League Trust and with additional support from Substance.

The results of the EPMIMT project are intended to be of value to organisations across Europe who use sports development programmes to improve their communities.  

The learning resources and case studies are free to use by anyone and are the available online at:

http://www.epmimt.net

Charlton Athletic to have a float at Pride in London

Charlton Athletic are to become one of the first professional football clubs to participate in Pride in London. 120 people linked to CACT, the club and associated groups will join a Charlton-themed float at this year’s Pride in London parade on Saturday 7 July. Up to now football teams have been represented in the march by their fan groups.

CACT Invicta FC, the first LGBTQI+ friendly football team affiliated to a professional club’s community trust, will join Charlton’s LGBTQI+ supporters’ group, the Proud Valiants, at the procession in Central London, which first took place in 1972.

Participation in the event will celebrate CACT Invicta winning the London Unity League title in their first season affiliated to Charlton, and also CACT’s wider commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

CACT Invicta FC said:

“Wow, what can we say, we are just blown away that we can be involved in the first ever Pride in London march that Charlton Athletic have ever been a part of. As the first ever LGBTQI+ friendly football club to be formally affiliated to a professional club’s community trust, we get to show the whole of London on 7 July that CACT reaches out to so many people across the South East, the club is one big family, and side by side we support one another – a sign of unity.

“It’s a huge step for the LGBTQI+ community and football as a whole, it allows us to stand united by breaking down barriers and shaking off stereotypes. It’s allowing the next generation within the LGBTQI+ community to believe in football and that football is a sport for all which nobody should ever feel excluded from.

“We are making history and we are delighted to be the start of that”.

Rob Harris, Proud Valiants’ Chair, said:

“Charlton Athletic and CACT have become champions in the fight against homophobia. We are very proud to be taking part in this event and celebrating not only with CACT Invicta but the whole Charlton Family. To make such a visible statement is historic and I hope that anybody in the crowd who has doubts about their sexuality or feels uneasy going to watch football as they fear the atmosphere may realise that football is a sport for all and that Charlton will not accept any form of prejudice.

“Pride tops off an amazing season of events that the Proud Valiants have worked on with the club, CACT and CACT Invicta including a dedicated first-team match in February, the third Charlton v Homophobia Tournament on 22 May and an upcoming conference for other professional clubs around homophobia and setting up supporter groups. All this goes to show how we all here at CAFC are setting the bar for all teams up and down the country.”

Charlton were recently named EFL London Checkatrade Community Club of the Year, with CACT Invicta the club’s showcase project.

Dr Michael Seeraj, CACT’s Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, said:

“This has been a remarkable first season for CACT Invicta, not only winning the London Unity League, but also being commended by the EFL, as part of CACT’s award for winning this season’s EFL London Community Club of the Year. We are committed to tackling discrimination and promoting inclusion, and are extremely proud that CACT Invicta now form an integral part of our wider equality programme. Pride in London will be a fitting finale to what has been a truly incredible year”.

The 120 wristbands that organisers have allocated will be distributed to CACT Invicta, Proud Valiants, and a number of CACT service users from across South East London and Kent, where the organisation’s work takes place.

Other events taking place this year to tackle homophobic abuse in sport include the Charlton v Homophobia football tournament on Tuesday 22 May, jointly hosted by the club and their official LGBTQI+ supporters group the Proud Valiants, which sees four LGBTQI+ friendly teams play 11-a-side matches at The Valley to raise awareness about the importance of creating an inclusive environment on and off the pitch.

CACT Invicta were formed as Bexley Invicta in 2011. Player-Manager Gary Ginnaw didn’t play football competitively for more than 12 years because he felt uncomfortable about the atmosphere. CACT Invicta train and play home matches at the club’s Sparrows Lane training ground, and their model has since been replicated by Norwich City’s Proud Canaries FC.

Proud Valiants were formed four years ago, when a LGBTQ fan approached the club and asked if they would be willing to endorse a supporters’ group for fans who identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer, loved football – but may feel isolated. The club welcomed the suggestion and the Proud Valiants were born and have since seen their membership soar. Their members have taken part in debates both here and overseas, and been invited to Parliament – as well as being covered in a wide range of media as front-runners in the battle against homophobia in the game.

National Citizen Service (NCS) Graduates profiled in new BBC social integration series: Crossing Divides

Two local Rotherham Teenagers, Casey and Waj, have been profiled in the BBC Crossing Divides Series, which looks at the ways in which people connect across the fractures that divide societies.

Casey and Waj, both from Rotherham, live in different parts of the town: Casey in the predominantly white area and Waj in the more diverse community. They were handpicked by the BBC to showcase how they overcame certain social divides in the area to become firm friends.

Casey, 17 said: “Looking back to before I did NCS and met Waj, it was quite incredible how segregated I was from people different to me – without ever really realising it! I didn’t feel any prejudice towards people different to me, but I also didn’t know anything about their faith or culture, as I’d just never been given the opportunity to learn more about it.”

Last summer both participated in National Citizen Service (NCS), a national youth programme which brings together 16-17 year olds in small groups which reflect the social mix of the community they live in.

NCS is delivered in Yorkshire and Humber by a number of professional football clubs through EFL Trust because they have an understanding of the makeup of the areas they serve: in this case, Rotherham United Community Sports Trust. To date 2,248 have participated in NCS in Rotherham since 2013. Casey and Waj’s experience included outdoor team-building exercises in Castleton, a residential at Sheffield University for them to learn ‘life skills’, and a community-based social action project.

Waj, 17 said: “I was nervous on the first day of NCS due to seeing plenty of people all very different to me. I was anxious of how well we could all get along and what perceptions they might already have of me. However, I was completely wrong, the group came together quickly and we all got on really well. The whole experience fed my confidence to be more ambitious with my aims and with myself; meeting some wonderful people like Casey definitely made me glad I took the opportunity to take part in NCS that summer.

Carole Foster at Rotherham United Community Sports Trust said: “The programme is a great opportunity to show the positive outcomes of NCS and how it brings together communities creating cohesion and uniting them through common interests and goals.”

The BBC interviewed the two girls about their differences growing up and filmed the reunion of the entire 2017 summer group at Jump Inc Trampoline Park. Both Casey and Waj spoke honestly in the piece about their different upbringings and their limited interaction with people from other backgrounds – but by coming together with a shared endeavour they developed a much greater understanding and respect to those different to them.

You can watch the video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-43845096/crossing-divides-bridging-rotherham-s-racial-chasm

JOB VACANCY: Independent Trustee (x2 positions)

The EFL Trust is the official charity of the EFL (English Football League). The Trust uses the power of sport, in particular football, to deliver a wide range of community initiatives focusing on raising aspirations and improving the quality of life for people within the communities of the EFL’s 72 clubs.

At the EFL Trust we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary, following our establishment in 2008. It is an exciting time to be joining our Board of Trustees as we re-establish our strategic direction and embark on the next decade of our journey.

The EFL Trust provides support, leadership, funding, structure and a collective identity to the community trusts in its network enabling a joined up approach to inspire people through powerful projects focusing on the four key themes of sport, health, education and community engagement.

The EFL Trust had an annual turnover of £18 million in 2017/18 and employs 40 members of staff who work across the country supporting the 72 community trusts in delivering innovative projects and programmes.

The EFL Trust is now looking to appoint 2 Independent Trustees to the Board, one of whom will have extensive experience and knowledge gained in the area of charity or company finance (ideally a qualified accountant) and the other will hold experience and knowledge gained in a health or social care setting (either NHS, public health or health charity). 

The Board comprises of 12 trustees; 4 trustees nominated by EFL, 4 trustees representing EFL, The Football Association (FA), The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and The Premier League plus 4 independent trustees.

The successful candidate will be required to spend a minimum of 8 days per annum on work for the EFL Trust, including Board Meetings, the AGM, an annual Board away day and at least 4 Board subcommittee meetings per year.

Please find the Independent Trustee information pack here: IND EFLT – Info Pack final mar 18

If you would like to discuss the role in more detail please contact Cathy Abraham on cabraham@efltrust.com

If you would like to apply for either of these positions please send CV with covering letter, outlining your relevant skills and experience to sfazackerley@efltrust.com

NB: Applications from head hunters and/or agencies will not be considered for this position. 

The EFL Trust is committed to creating an inclusive and diverse Board of Trustees and is proud to be an equal opportunities employer. We welcome applications from disabled people and those from an ethnic minority background. 

All suitably experienced applicants will receive consideration for these positions without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or belief(s), gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age or with regard to pregnancy or maternity.  

CLOSING DATE: Monday 7th May 2018 at 12am

INTERVIEW DATE: Thursday 17th May 2018

Education side face refugee team in memorable occasion

Barnsley FC’s education team faced a side made up of refugees in a what was a memorable occasion at Reds in the Community yesterday.

Jaber Abdullah created the African Tigers team in 2015 and his amazing work has seen them form two football sides with players from several different countries.

Abdullah’s team came from behind to win 3-2, with Josh Lovell scoring a fantastic volley and Tom Lambert also netting for the education side.

Both sets of players were awarded certificates and medals post-match whilst posing for plenty of pictures.

Social Inclusion Officer Hannah Phillips hailed Abdullah’s ‘brilliant’ work and said it was a great experience for the Tigers players.

She said: “I thought it was really successful. Both teams got really into it. Obviously, the refugee team won but the education lads did really well. It was nice to see them at the end all having pictures together. I thought it brought them all together.

“Jaber came with us about two years ago now. There was only him and about six mates. They started with us and had a training session every week with one of our coaches. It grew from Jaber just going out and spreading the word. He’s done brilliantly to form a team out of it.

“Getting to play at a professional football club on a fairly new pitch was great for them as well. I think they enjoyed it. You could tell at the end with all the photos and the mixing with each other, it was really good to see.

“We really want to get other clubs involved as well. Maybe we could take the Tigers team to face some Sheffield teams or just other teams in the county. It’s definitely something that we want to continue to support.”

Sudanese-born Abdullah was thankful for the support of Barnsley Football Club and Reds in the Community whilst being understandably proud of his Tigers.

He said: “Barnsley has changed. Asylum seekers love English people and English people love asylum seekers. It’s for everybody.

“In 2015 I created this team in a local park in Barnsley. It’s a very long story about how I created the team. It’s a team of all asylum seekers.

“The football club supports me. They give me shirts and anything else I want. This is the next team. The first team has gone to many different towns. The first team has gone to Manchester and London.

“The players are all from different countries. It was difficult how to play with 15 guys from different countries, different traditions, different languages and different religions. I am really proud of the team because it has been a success.”

 

Link to original piece: http://bit.ly/EducationVsAfricanTigers

Link to Facebook gallery of event: https://www.facebook.com/pg/RedsintheCommunity/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1702484969809730

 

 

HRH Duke of Cambridge lends support to Cambridge United’s ambitious new community strategy – Gameplan 2020

Cambridge United Community Trust received support from His Royal Highness Prince William the Duke of Cambridge as they launched Game Plan 2020, the Club’s new strategy for community work over the next three years.

Game Plan 2020 builds on Cambridge United Community Trust’s work to date and adds a further 12 programmes. The 30 initiatives across the areas of health, education and inclusion all aim to help create a fairer and more prosperous Cambridge for all.  It includes new projects in mental health, literacy and loneliness alongside deepening existing work in disability sports, science in schools and volunteering. Details of all projects can be read here.

In his foreword to the strategy document Game Plan 2020 HRH The Duke of Cambridge said:

“Cambridge United is a very close neighbour of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, where I was a pilot for two years, at the heart of a community to which I have a very strong personal connection. It is encouraging to see how active the Club is in the local area – from running lunch clubs for pensioners through to hosting disability football sessions for all groups. The Club’s new mental health programme for young people is particularly innovative and important.

“Cambridge United is the epitome of a good community-based Club. The ambition of the Cambridge United Community Trust, on behalf of the Club in the local community, is one that many other football clubs – big and small – could learn from across the Country. It is great to see Cambridge United raise this ambition further and look to build on their outstanding community work of recent years. By focusing even more help on those who need it most, the Trust will ensure thousands of local people can benefit from the positive power of football. Good luck with the important work.”

Tracey Crouch, Sports Minister, said “It is great to see Cambridge United using the power of sport to have such a positive impact in their local community. Their new strategy – Gameplan 2020 – will build on the great work of their Community Trust and am sure will be a big success. I am particularly pleased to see the Club starting a new mental health programme in schools next year. I know myself just how sport can make such a difference to a person’s mental well being.”

Martin Glenn, CEO of the Football Association, said: “The work of the Cambridge United Community Trust is a shining example of how a professional football club can be a true force for good in its local community. It is great to see the Trust extending the chance to play the game to every part of society – from people with different disabilities to senior citizens who still love to kick a ball. The Club is now setting out its new ambitions to do even more to tackle inequality and provide opportunity. Everyone at the FA wishes them every success with these exciting plans.”

Graham Daniels, Chair of Cambridge United Community Trust, said: “Everyone associated with Cambridge United is honoured that HRH The Duke of Cambridge has endorsed our community work in this way. We are proud to have such high level support for the important work of our Trust from Government and the Football Association. It is testament to the hard work and passion of all the staff and volunteers who have done so much to drive the Trust’s work since it was formed. The Trust has been an important symbol of the Club’s desire to become a genuine community club that uses the power of sport to help every part of Cambridge wherever we can, 7 days a week.

“Cambridge is a fantastic global city. It is world class in so many different ways. And we are proud that our Club is based here. It is also however a city which is home to some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country – many of whom live very close to our home at the Abbey Stadium. The Abbey Ward has, for example, the highest degree of child poverty in Cambridge.

“The social responsibility to do more for these groups and to help close the inequality gap falls at least in part to organisations such as Cambridge United through the Community Trust. We believe that Gameplan 2020 with its 30 programmes focused on the areas of health, education and inclusion can help create a fairer and more prosperous Cambridge for all.”

– Trust to increase number of community programmes to 30 to help all parts of the City

– Tracey Crouch, Sports Minister, and Martin Glenn, CEO of the FA, also endorse Trust’s work

Disability football project smashes targets

Thousands of people across the country with a wide range of disabilities have benefitted from the first year of the EFL Trusts’ Every Player Counts Disability Football programme.

The Every Player Counts programme started in September 2016 and supports the EFL Trust’s aim of increasing sports participation for all.

In its first year the programme got 3,634 unique participants involved in sport, many for the first time, exceeding its year one target by over 20%.

The landmark project was made possible thanks to a £1.1m donation from the Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST). The funding represented WNST’s largest single donation to date and its first England-wide grants programme.

Mike Evans, EFL Trust Director of Operations said: “The first year of the programme has been a tremendous success, giving thousands of people access to sport regardless of their background or abilities.

”The partnership with Wembley National Stadium Trust has enabled our network to reach even further into their communities and use the power of football to make a real difference to people’s lives. We are pleased that the success of year one means we can continue to reach more people in year two.”

The programme covers a wide range of disabilities with the simple aim of getting more people involved in sport. 25 EFL clubs run the Every Player Counts programmes that are tailored to the specific needs of their local community.

Stewart Goshawk, WNST Chief Executive added “We all understand the power that sport has to change lives for the better.  These opportunities to play football through “Every Player Counts” are having such a positive impact on the lives of so many disabled people, both young and old, right across the country.

“The chance to be involved in a project at their local professional football club is a great attraction for many of the participants and the quality of the programmes on offer are a testament to the excellent work undertaken by the club community trusts within their local neighbourhoods.  We look forward to Year 2 being just as successful.”

The 25 EFL Club Trusts deliver activity covering a wide range of disability programmes including wheelchair football, football for visual impairment, learning difficulties, amputees and autism, giving many disabled people access to football for the first time.

Rhys Swift, a participant of Leeds United Foundation’s Every Player Counts sessions, is visually impaired and finds playing football with other visually impaired kids better for him as they share similar experiences.

His dad, David, said: ”Leeds United Foundation has been most helpful. Rhys has gained his confidence back and his love for plating football. Playing with other VI kids has really helped him as they share relatable experiences.

”As a parent I have seen how much these sessions have meant to Rhys, it is like he has found his element. Playing football is so important to him and Leeds United Foundation coaches have given him hope for the future.”

Although individual programmes will differ from club to club, the emphasis is always on increasing participation, improving health and championing the social benefits of taking part in football.   The over- riding aim of the scheme is to increase the amount of disabled people participating in football reaching out to over 3000 people per year, breaking down the barriers that have prevented them from doing so.

To find out more about Every Player Counts visit: http://www.efltrust.com/projects/every-player-counts/

“It was an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience”

10 NCS graduates from EFL Trust’s network attended the Passchendaele commemoration event.

The event marked 100 years since the World War One ‘Battle of Passchendaele’, which led to an estimated 250,000 British and Commonwealth casualties. Our graduates involved were;

Max Barnett (Grimsby)
Edward Ross (Beverley) 
Michael Hoodless (Hull) 
Sarah Newsome (Barnsley)
Libby Smith (Doncaster)
Cheyenne Van Den Berg (Sheffield)
Emily Coulter (Huddersfield)
Annie Caddle (Portsmouth)
Marley Callway (Portsmouth) 
Aaron Metcalfe (Hartlepool)

They were part of 100 NCS grads that were invited by the DCMS (Department of Culture, Media and Sport) to attend the UK ceremony of remembrance in Belgium on the 30th and 31st July. The event was attended by over 4,000 people which included members of the Royal Family, Prince Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) and Prime Minister Theresa May.

During the two days of commemoration, our grads took on important roles at the four main events; Menin Gate, Cloth Hall, Passchendaele Memorial Park and Tyne Cot Cemetery.

NCS graduate Edward, had the honour of passing the wreath over to the country’s ambassador, whilst graudates Cheyenne and Sarah had the opportunity of meeting and greeting the Prime Minister and William and Kate.

Max from Grimsby and Libby from Doncaster, had exciting roles escorting descendants and forming a guard of honour for the Royal Family. They also had time in front of the camera and other media duties such as interviews live on BBC News and BBC Radio Sheffield.

Max had his own family connection with the event after finding out that his Great, Great Grandma’s cousin, Earnest Cooper, died in the Battle of Passchendaele.

He said, “It’s been very warming to hear everyone’s story, I have my own story but it doesn’t compare to some of the people I have met.’”

Libby described her experience as unforgettable, “It was just an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience. It was so much better than I expected and I was unaware of how big the event really was, and how essential the role NCS graduates had to support the event.

“In my role over the weekend I was able to meet the royals and speak with the ministry of defence. We had the opportunity of visiting the front line and walking through no man’s land, which was spectacular. It’s something I will never forget.”

This fantastic experience was only available to NCS graduates. They were able to carry skills from their time on NCS and thereafter feel confident about representing their generation at such an important national event.

Michael Lynas, CEO of NCS Trust, said: “100 NCS graduates were honoured to serve our country at the Centenary of Passchendaele events. I am proud of how these young people represented their generation as they met descendants, the Royal Family and the Prime Minister.

“I know that these young NCS graduates will help ensure that the sacrifice of the fallen will be remembered for generations to come.”

To find out more about the National Citizen Service visit: https://www.ncsefltrust.co.uk

Blades over 50’s win the EFL Trust Walking Football Cup 2017

Sheffield United took the first trophy of the EFL season by winning the 2017 EFL Trust Walking Football Cup.  A stunning strike from Blades’ Paul Stacey saw Sheffield beat Kidderminster Harriers 1-0, in a pulsating final after a thrilling day of walking football.

In the impressive surroundings of Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground, 12 teams from around the country came together to contest in the finals. To reach this stage, finalists had already won their local competition which was held by over 70 EFL and conference clubs.

The competition gives players the opportunity to represent their club, wearing official club colours in the regional finals, with the winners and runners up progressing to Saturday’s national finals.

Year after year, the competition is growing in stature with an increase in participation. Over 1,500 men and women from a record breaking 200 teams have taken part this year – a 17% increase from last year.

EFL Trust’s Walking Football Cup organiser Aiden Couch commented, “Walking Football has grown enormously over the last few years and we’ve had more men and women take part this year than ever before.

“ Once you get to 50 the opportunities to take part in competitive sport really decreases and so people tend to become inactive, which can create numerous health problems. The Walking Football Cup is one way EFL clubs and their community trusts are tackling this issue.

“A survey completed during last year’s competition showed that 82% of participants believe their physical health has improved by playing walking football, with 79% of those competing in last year’s competition saying their level of exercise has increased.”

The closely fought group stages

Reigning champions Blackpool looked on course to retain their title going unbeaten through the group stages and topping group two.  Behind them the contest for second spot and a place in the semi-final was wide open with Colchester, Notts County, Luton Town and Cheltenham separated by just one point going into the final group game.  Colchester’s fifth draw of the day against Bradford saw them finish the tournament unbeaten on five points but out of contention.  With Cheltenham playing Blackpool and County and Luton playing each other, a win for any team would put them in pole position.  With both games finishing 0-0, it was Luton who progressed on goal difference by just one goal.

Group One was just as close; eventual winners Sheffield United got off to a slow start losing to 2015 champions Plymouth Argyle.  Whilst the Blades went from strength to strength that proved to be the Green Army’s only win. Going into the last round of group fixtures Blackburn Rovers, Dagenham and Redbridge, Sheffield United and Kidderminster Harriers could all qualify for the semi-finals – with intriguingly Blackburn playing Kidderminster and Sheffield United playing the Daggers.  The Blades quickly went into a 2-0 lead whilst the Rovers, Kidderminster game was incredibly tight and could have gone either way. Eventually the game finished 1-1 which meant the Harriers edged out Rovers by just a point.

Semi Final Drama

Sheffield United faced Luton in the semi-final and this time more clinical finishing saw them take a 2-0 win. The other semi-final between Kidderminster and reigning champions Blackpool proved to be dramatic. After a cagey game finished 0-0, it opened up in extra time with Blackpool creating a string of chances, which the Harriers gallantly defended to set up a suspenseful penalty shoot out. Amazingly, the first 14 penalties were all converted before the Kidderminster keeper pulled off a brave save – only for the Blackpool stopper to cancel out the advantage with a spectacular save.  The champions’ reign ended however, in the next round of penalties when Kidderminster cooly slotted home to take them to the final.

Legends raise awareness of prostate cancer

Before the final, a team of Aston Villa legends including Ian Taylor, Shaun Teale and Bryan Small took on a PCUK (Prostate Cancer UK) team featuring former Stoke, Notts County and Southend striker Dave Regis. Although the Villa team ran out 3-1 winners, the game proved a vital opportunity to raise awareness of prostate cancer which is a key issue for men aged over 50.

The Blades Victorious

The eagerly anticipated 2017 Walking Football Final between Sheffield United and Kidderminster Harriers was incredibly close, with hardly anything to chose between them having previously drawn 0-0 in the group stages. It was Paul Stacey’s stunning strike that separated the teams in the end and sealed victory on the day for Sheffield United.