Participants willingly travel the distance to attend blind/VI football sessions

Leeds United Foundation’s football programme specifically tailored to support those living with blindness and visual impairment (VI), has proven to have that much of an impact, participants are travelling the distance to take part in the frequent sessions.

The programme, funded by the Football Foundation’s ”Grow the Game” and Wembley National Stadium Trust’s ”Every Player Counts” allows participants to boost their confidence, improve their health and fitness, encourage and promote social inclusion, and achieve their personal goals in life.

Specially trained coaches deliver weekly sessions in a safe and friendly environment at the John Charles Centre for Sport in South Leeds, providing the ideal opportunity to meet new friends in a comfortable and caring environment.

One attendee, Rhys Swift, aged 12, even travelled over two hours with his dad David from Leyburn in Lancashire for the opening session.

Anthony Hall, Leeds United Foundation Disability Sport Officer said: ”I’m overwhelmed by how far parents are willing to travel to take their children to attend a football session. We’ve had players from Scarborough, our good neighbours, Huddersfield and now Leyburn.

”I’m really proud that Leeds United Foundation provides a service for young people that are blind and visually impaired. We’d love to welcome as many people as possible.”

Rhys has an eye condition called aniridia which is the absence of the iris, he is blind in one eye and short sighted in the other.

Through the sessions, Rhys finds playing with other visually impaired kids better as they share similar experiences and he has even been selected to go on the disability talent identification programme, a 6 week scheme which works with players aged 11 to 16, who show potential to progress along the England Disability Talent pathway and enhance their development.


Rhys’ Dad, David, commented: “As a parent I have seen how much these sessions have meant to Rhys, it’s like he has found his element. Playing football is so important to him and the sessions have given him hope for the future.

”Rhys feels that all of the coaches have been incredibly helpful and they are positive role models. They really understand what he needs.”

Jacob West, an 8 year-old participant who also suffers with aniridia, is new to football and has never really played before. Through the sessions, he has improved his football skills and is more confident.

He said: ”Leeds United Foundation has introduced me to VI Football for the first time, I have really enjoyed all of the football sessions and I got to attend my first ever Leeds United football match at Elland Road and I loved it!”

With over 24,000 blind and partially sighted young people in the UK, access to sport and football has historically proven a difficult challenge for many. With a subsequent lack of activity and interaction with others, the results can often be devastating.

Anthony concluded: ”It’s vital that we offer the right support for those with blindness and visual impairment.

”Research tells us that lack of sporting activity often leads to exclusion and young people becoming withdrawn and more vulnerable to bullying. Coupled with feelings of isolation and depression, it is evident that as the official club charity we are in a position to help those most in need.”

For more information on the VI/blind football sessions, call Anthony Hall on 0113 367 6118 or email him at

Every Player Counts

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

The landmark project was made possible thanks to a £1.1M donation from the Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST).

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.

To find out more about Every Player Counts visit –


MK Dons offer teenager dream job for summer

National Citizen Service (NCS) graduate Luke Dallen, who completed the programme with MK Dons in September 2015, returns to the programme this year as a team leader to help guide even more young people.

Luke, now aged 17, initially played for the MK Dons Sports and Education Trust’s Disability team and was encouraged by his parents to sign up for NCS in an attempt to combat his issues with confidence and communication.

Luke is the first to admit he was dubious to start the programme he said: ”I was nervous about taking part, but my parents and I gel that it would benefit me massively in the future.”

His attitude and commitment to MK Dons and the NCS programme lead the team to offer him a position as a team leader for their delivery of NCS this summer.

Thrilled Luke commented: ”I chose to do it again because I wanted the chance to be as supportive as my team leader was, and create a fun environment for the participants. I also wanted to improve my confidence, communication and leadership skills even further.”

To date, more than 300,000 teens have taken part in NCS across the country. For any young people taking part, Luke said: ”It’s a great opportunity to develop loads of new skills that will benefit you moving forward. You will also make loads of new friends from different towns and villages which brings you so much confidence. It really takes your life to the next level.”


MK Dons are one of 32 clubs across the EFL who are involved in an NCS Match Day this season. Last weekend’s fixture against Coventry saw The Dons host theirs. The club’s first team players played an important role during the occasion, warming up in NCS branded t-shirts and meeting programme graduates. Stephen Greene, Executive Chairman of the independent management body of the National Citizen Service and CEO of international pro-social media company Rockcorps was also present.

There are still places available for 15-17 year olds to get involved this summer. To find out more visit –





Girls Football Development Centre launched in Exeter

Exeter City Football in the Community are launching a new Girls Football Development Centre in partnership with Exeter City Ladies Football Club.

The Development Centre aims to provide an additional provision for talented individuals, in Exeter and across the South West, to pursue in conjunction with their local teams and break through the female player pathway.

Working in partnership with Exeter City Ladies Football Club, who currently play in the FA Women’s Premier League South West Division, the centre aims to provide an exciting opportunity locally and bridge the gap between grassroots football.

The initial Open Trial Session will take place on Thursday, March 30 2017, at the new 3G development at Cliff Hill Training Ground (EX5 1DP) from 6.30pm to 8pm.

The session will be open to U12’s, U14’s and U16’s (Under-12s are school years six and seven, Under-14s are school years eight and nine and Under-16s are school years 10 and 11).

Donna Langdon, Women and Girls Development Coordinator at Exeter City Football in Community said: “We recognise the outstanding work of local youth clubs, and aim for the centre to support and expand upon their hard work. The centre provides an excellent opportunity to further develop players, and aid the number of girls progressing through to regular engagement within women’s football.”

For more information, please contact Women and Girls Development Coordinator, Donna Langdon at

FUTSAL AND EDUCATION: Represent your club and study sport

The EFL Trust Futsal and Education programme offers 16-18 year olds (male and female) the chance to play futsal representing their local football club and at the same time, study towards a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport.

The unique scheme offers young people a different way to learn, aimed at those with a passion for football and a desire to progress to university or work in sport.

Programme Overview

BTEC Level 1 Overview:

The Level 1 Futsal and Education Programme is a specialist work related course built around the BTEC First Diploma in Sport and Active Leisure covering the foundations of sport such as team work and leadership. This course particularly suits those wanting to enter employment in the sport and active leisure sector as you will gain valuable work experience whilst completing the BTEC Certificate  in Workskills. To top it all off you can gain valuable English and Maths qualification and the Beginners Guide to Futsal coaching award.

Alongside the academic aspect of the course, you will also become a player and a scholar within a professional football club and complete within the EFL Trust Futsal League competing at the best arenas across the country.

Upon successful completion of the course you will have the opportunity to progress on to the Level 2 Futsal and Education Programme.

BTEC Level 2 Overview:

The Level 2 Futsal and Education Programme is a specialist work related course built around the BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Sport and builds knowledge of practical sports performance, training and personal fitness, running sports events and sport community volunteering. This course particularly suits those wanting to enter employment and/or further study in the sport and active leisure sector as you will gain valuable work experience, continue to study English and Maths and complete a Level 1 award in Football Coaching.

Alongside the academic aspect of the course, you will also become a player and a scholar within a professional football club and compete within the EFL Trust’s Futsal League competing at the best arenas across the country. Upon successful completion of the course you will have the opportunity to progress on to the prestigious Level 3 Futsal and Education Programme. The Level 3 Programme provides an excellent platform for you to access higher education with the most common exit route being university study. Level 3 scholars also have the chance to progress in to England futsal squads.

BTEC Level 3 Overview:

The BTEC National in Sport is a specialist work related course developed to cover the core elements of sporting performance and excellence such as Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology, Coaching, Analysis and Technical and Tactical Development.

This course particularly suits those wanting to enter employment in the sport and active leisure sector as sports coaches, instructors and leaders and for those wishing to progress to higher education to study a sport related degree such as coaching, sports development and sports science.

After the programme

After successful completion of the programme there are an array of exit routes, ranging from a university education (including EFL Trust’s Community Football Coaching and Development Foundation degree) to careers in the sports and leisure sector, both in the UK and overseas. A number of students have progressed to employment within their football club, whilst several have pursued soccer scholarships in the USA.

Register your interest in the programme here >>





More than 30,000 children will be taught about the importance of parliament and democracy by eight EFL clubs based in Yorkshire, thanks to an innovative partnership between the EFL Trust and Parliament Education Service.

For the second year running, the eight clubs, including promotion hopefuls Leeds United and Sheffield United, from the Championship and League One, will use the power of football to engage primary and secondary students in the work that Parliament do and why it’s relevant to them.

The Club’s Community Trusts will visit over 100 schools in the next three months to talk about parliament, politics and democracy through the themes of gamesmanship, rule-making and active citizenship.

Mike Evans, Director of Operations at the EFL Trust, said: “It’s not immediately obvious why football is teaching children about the democratic process. Football clubs are based at the heart of their communities and the power of the club badge within that community means children are often prepared to listen when coaches and players visit schools.

“In the current political environment it is vitally important that children understand the importance of a democratic process, parliament, and why it is relevant to them. This is why we are delighted to once again to be working with Parliament Education Service to deliver these key messages to young people.”

David Clark, Senior Manager from the Parliament Education Service, commented: “Supporting young people to discover, consider, and engage with the work of their Parliament is at the heart of what Parliament’s Education Service do. We are committed to reaching new audiences so teaming up with the EFL Trust, whose clubs have such great community links, helps us do just that.”

The participating clubs are:

  • Barnsley
  • Doncaster Rovers
  • Huddersfield Town
  • Leeds United
  • Grimsby Town
  • Rotherham United
  • Sheffield United
  • Scunthorpe United

From teacher training, to school visits, find out more about the great range of free resources, support and school trips Parliament’s Education Service offer:

NCS Action Day

Over 235 teens from Yorkshire & Humber will be actively volunteering as part of NCS Action Day between the 18th– 21st March.

NCS Action Day is a day where NCS Grads from across the UK will come together and celebrate all the work they have done to support good causes in their local communities’. In Yorkshire and Humber, EFL Trust have had over 16,000 young people partake in National Citizen Service (NCS) delivering over 500,000 hours of social action in their local community.

Action Day is a chance for NCS graduates to shout out loud about their social action achievements, deliver a project as a collective and make a positive impact on their community.

Graduates in Yorkshire and Humber are set to be very busy during NCS Action Day having planned 8 projects across the region. Take a look what some of them will be up to;

Tigers Trust – Over 100 NCS Graduates and Summer 2017 participants will come together to complete the ‘Conga of Culture’ in Hull City Centre. The Conga will work to raise awareness of local mental health provision in partnership with staff and volunteers from the beneficiary charity, MIND. Read more

Club Doncaster Foundation – 40 Graduates will be working alongside Doncaster Rovers Football Club & Dons Rugby Club to deliver an intergenerational project with elderly and vulnerable adults, putting on activities such as bingo, arts and crafts and soft refreshments.

Sheffield United Community Foundation – It’s Penalty Shoot-out time at Bramall Lane!! Graduates from Sheffield United will be raising money for Prostate Cancer by holding a penalty shoot-out on the pitch before kick-off at Sheffield United v Charlton Athletic (Saturday18th March). Graduates will also be speaking to fans raising awareness and doing a bucket collection.

Tony Buck, Youth Engagement Officer at EFL Trust said: “The skills and experience that young people gain whilst participating in NCS, are designed to equip them, to continue making a positive difference in their communities. NCS Action Day, is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate all the incredible things our NCS Graduates do all year round. We are very proud of all the hard work that Graduates have been doing in preparation for Action Day and look forward to seeing the difference their projects will make from Saturday 18th March.”

All the social action projects which are part of the NCS programme are a fundamental part of the skills learnt and developed by young people.

To keep updated on NCS Action follow our Twitter page @NCS_EFLTrust.






KIDS CUP: 2017 Finalists

The EFL Kids Cup comprises of a six-a-side competition for U11 school children and culminates in three finals which take place at Wembley before the Championship, League 1 and League 2 Sky Bet Play-Off finals in May.

The competition which inspires children to be active, healthy, and develop a strong sense of teamwork, involves over 16,000 children and is one of the country’s largest national football competitions, giving the chance for school children to compete for the chance to live out their dream of playing at Wembley Stadium in front of thousands.

The road to the finals

The pathway to the finals start when the new school term begins. Each of the 72 EFL clubs organise a local Kids Cup competition for all local schools wishing to take part.

Many clubs play their local school competitions at their home stadium before a first team game. The winning school of the local competition then gets to represent their EFL club in the area and regional phases of the competition, where they will face other schools representing their EFL clubs.

The 72 clubs are first split into 3 divisions, in line with club’s divisional status, before being split into two groups, north and south. The winners of the divisional northern and southern finals will then qualify for the chance to play before the Sky Bet EFL Play-Off Final of the relevant division.

Confirmed 2017 finalists and dates

Last week, the last of our north and south regional finals took place. Here are our confirmed Wembley finalists and the play-off final fixture dates:

EFL Kids Cup Championship Final –

Derby County (Etwall Primary) v Ipswich Town (Cedarwood CP)

Date: Before the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final – 29th May 2017

EFL Kids Cup League 1 Final –

 Oxford Utd (Our Ladies CPS) v Sheffield Utd (Norton Free Primary)

Date: Before the Sky Bet League 1 Play-Off Final – 20th May 2017

EFL Kids Cup League 2 Final –

   Carlisle Utd (Newlaithes JS) v Wycombe Wanderers  (Trevelyan Middle School)

Date: Before the Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final – 28th May 2017

“I might have lost my life to mental illness if it wasn’t for a game of football”

James Casling, a 22-year old from north-west London, was left in a very dark place on the day of his fifteenth birthday when his father committed suicide. The teenager was sectioned three years later after trying to take his own life on multiple occasions. But a simple offer from QPR Community Trust to play football, turned his life around.

On May 2010, James should have been celebrating turning 15, but instead, he learned that his father had taken his own life.

His story is understandably still very raw and it is an event he is still grappling to come to terms with.

Trying to collect himself amid the tears and shaking as he speaks, James relives the last few years of his father’s life.

”I always wondered why he would do it, why my love for him wasn’t enough” he told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

”But then I realised, if someone’s like that [suicidal], I couldn’t have save him.

”I think it hurts a lot more, to know there was nothing I could have done to stop it.”

As he describes it, his whole world turned upside down and it left him in a ”dark place”.

”I was in so much pain, that to carry on [living] seemed like it was going to hurt more than to end my life.”

Over the next three years, James tried to kill himself on countless occasions.

”It’s a scary place. People say ‘are you afraid of dying?’ But if you can take steps to end your life, there’s not much that is scary to you.

”To sit in a room and to be left alone with my thoughts, I think that’s what kills people.

”It’s their own head, telling them their life isn’t worth it, when in fact it is.”

James with his father

At aged 18, James was sectioned and admitted to the Park Royal Mental Health centre in north-west London.

It was there, that his life changed when he was asked one morning if he wanted to play football with the help of the QPR Community Trust.

Immediately he said yes and this lead to his mother taking a simple step of buying him a pair of football boots.

”At the time I didn’t realise, but if my mum didn’t buy me those boots, things might not have changed, and I might have lost my life to mental illness.”

James became the QPR Community Trust’s mental health team’s top goal scorer in the first three seasons – an achievement which he is rightly very proud of.

”When I lost my dad, I lost all sense of belonging. It threw me out of control. I didn;t have anything I felt I belonged to.

”When I put on my kit and play with my friends, it feels like we’re not just friends, we’re family.

”Every week I attended training and it gave me hope I could be someone my family and friends could be proud of.

In his strikingly frank and endearing manner, he adds: ”It made me want to stay alive, so my mum and brothers wouldn’t have to bury me.”

James – supported by his mother and the Mental Health Football Association – hopes others can feel the same benefits in the future.

”We can never stop people getting mentally unwell, but we can help them get better [through] football.

”If I had carried on that path [from before football] I wouldn’t be here today. I had to stop destroying myself.”

Although he is now older, he is unsure what the future holds for him – but remains positive.

”The future’s looking a lot brighter than it was a couple of years ago.

”I’m 21 now, I’ve got a good 60 years ahead of me.”

His hope is that by speaking out, others will be inspired by his story too – and may seek help.

To find out more about QPR Community Trust visit –

‘’My confidence boosted and my communication skills were improved”

The EFL (English Football League) Trust celebrates its participation of females of the National Citizen Service (NCS) during International Women’s Day.

In 2016, the EFL Trust had 2405 female teens taking part in NCS, empowering them to build confidence, learn new skills, and meet new people. The 3-4 week programme gives young people and females a chance to speak about what matters to them and make a difference to themselves and their community.

NCS has made an impact on a number of girls, including Cara and Angel, both from Sheffield.

Cara puts her new self-found confidence and belief down to her experiences as an NCS participant with Sheffield Wednesday and believes NCS played a crucial role in helping her obtain a place at university, “I had to step out of my comfort zone when I joined the programme, however it was fun and perfect to do in-between finishing school and starting college.

“The NCS is something that everyone should be doing and I have so many lifetime fond memories from my time on the programme. Because of the NCS, I have met some good friends now and I wouldn’t have met them if I didn’t join.

“My confidence instantly boosted and my communication skills improved. I can now talk in front of a crowd of people I don’t know and feel good about it whereas I didn’t before NCS.

“The NCS has taught me independence and responsibility. It will be always something I look back on fondly.”

Cara will this year be an NCS mentor for Sheffield Wednesday before heading off to university in September, with her destination of study yet to be decided.

She continued: “I want to be a genetic health scientist now and the NCS swayed my decision. I knew I wanted to do that degree, but I didn’t realise how many good opportunities were at the end of it.

“I remember writing my university application and it heavily referenced the NCS and my experiences. There was so much to write about the NCS because the opportunities are endless.”

Angel Orola, 16 from Sheffield, graduated from NCS with Groundwork. Angel and her group VIBE’s Girl Power Project will be working with SheFest, a fringe festival as part of International Women’s Day that celebrates women’s achievements in Sheffield, highlighting key social issues and working to create plausible solutions in an inclusive and thought-provoking way

Angel said “I’m so excited to be taking part and can’t wait to see how the ways in which we can engage in important gender issues within their local community!”

She continues “I love getting involved with International Women’s day as it’s such an important opportunity for raising awareness, and engaging with gender issues within our local, national and global community”

Evie Muir, NCS team leader for Groundwork “As part of this event, VIBE’s Girl Power project will provides young women with contemporary skills in how to create and publicise successful gender-centred campaigns by using mediums such as; blogs, vlogs, video diaries and social media”

NCS is a unique opportunity where you can develop life and employability skills, make new friends and gives young people a voice. NCS takes place during Spring Summer & Autumn with limited spaces available. For further information visit

GIRLS CUP: Girls from Bristol and Shrewsbury to live Wembley dream

After winning the Regional Final stages of the Kinder + Sport Girls Cup last week, girls from Gordano School in Bristol and Thomas Telford School in Shrewsbury will get a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to represent their local football clubs at Wembley Stadium.

This year, over 6000 girls competed in the Kinder + Sport Girls Cup, a six-a-side competition for U13’s, that culminates in a Grand Final prior to the Checkatrade Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium on 2nd April.

The road to the finals began when each of the 72 EFL clubs organised a local competition for all schools wishing to take part. Each winning school of the local competition got the opportunity to represent their local club in the north and south Area Finals, in a bid to reach the Regional Finals.

The Swindome, Swindon’s first all purpose state of the art indoor football facility, a venue also used by Southampton FC’s development squad, was home to the south Regional Finals last Wednesday.

Bristol City (Gordano High School), who finished 2nd at the Regional Final stage of the competition last year, came out on top against Luton Town, Brentford and Reading FC to claim their Grand Final spot at Wembley after competing in a highly contested group stage.

The north Regional Finals took place at Sheffield Wednesday FC’s training ground last Friday, and saw last season’s overall champions Shrewsbury Town (Thomas Telford School), overcome three other teams (Barnsley, Blackburn Rovers and Peterborough United).  They progressed to their second successive Grand Final with a hard fought win over Blackburn Rovers, who took them all the way to the end.

The girls were also fortunate enough to receive support from Women’s Super League (WSL) players during both Regional Finals from Reading Women FC, Oxford United Women FC and Sheffield Ladies FC.

Oxford United Women midfielder Emily Donovan, who was present at the south Regional Final said: ”There’s been some great quality of play today. I walked in and the first thing I saw was somebody scoring from the defensive line!

”It’s incredible for the girls that they get to play at Wembley. Hopefully one day even I’ll have the opportunity. When you’re younger there’s nothing better than knowing you’ll get the chance to play at a national stadium.”

Lauren Burton, Reading Women FC’s attacking midfielder said: ”I think the Girls Cup is fantastic. It’s great for the women’s game. When I was younger this sort of thing wasn’t around, so it’s great to see that a lot of girls have got good tournaments with their schools, and that they’re even fortunate enough to go to Wembley.”

Sheffield Ladies and England U18 forward Hannah Caine commented: ”When I started out there wasn’t any girls teams where I was, so I started off in a boys team. It’s fantastic to see that now there’s enough girls playing to put tournaments like this together.

”It’s massive for the girls, what an inspiration to get to play at Wembley. I would have loved an opportunity like that when I was a kid.”