EFL Trust Disability Programme Celebrates One Year Anniversary With Football Festival

The EFL Trust’s nationwide disability football programme, Every Player Counts, celebrated its one-year anniversary by holding a football festival at MediaCityUk in Salford today, with players and Clubs showcasing the programme in front of special guests. 

Former England defender Danny Mills, ex-Hull City manager Mike Phelan and Bolton Wanderers forward Aaron Wilbraham were all at the event to support the anniversary and witness first-hand the benefits of the scheme. 

Mills, Phelan and Wilbraham met participants from Wigan Athletic, Fleetwood Town, Bolton Wanderers, Coventry City and Shrewsbury Town who have been involved in the programme over the past 12 months, with over 50 players taking part on the day.

Aaron Wilbraham of Bolton Wanderers, Mike Phelan and Danny Mills.

Funded by the Wembley National Stadium Trust and the EFL Trust, £1.1 million in grants, including almost £200,000 from the EFL Trust, has been donated to the Every Player Counts programme, with 25 EFL Clubs currently delivering the initiative across the country.

“Football is the greatest game on the planet, but it is about participation and that is what makes programmes such as this so beneficial. Not only the health aspect, but from a social point of view, today and over the previous year will have changed the lives of those taking part,” explained Former Manchester City defender Mills, who helped launch the Every Player Counts programme a year ago.

It has been a remarkable first year for the programme, with over 3,600 participants taking part, exceeding the initial target by over 20%. Just under 900 of those were between the ages of ten and fifteen, demonstrating the importance of giving youngsters an opportunity to gain confidence and take part in sporting activity.

Mike Phelan watches on over a young Shrewsbury player.

The five EFL Community Trusts took part in a small tournament, with disabilities ranging from visual impairment to amputations, showcasing the diversity the programme offers.

Former Manchester United assistant manager Phelan said: “It is really pleasing to be able to see the opportunities available for everybody to take part in football. It is a fantastic programme that encourages participation, and with nationwide support from EFL Clubs it is only going to get stronger over the next few years.”

EFL Trust Director of Operations, Mike Evans said: “It’s a year since we launched the programme and it wouldn’t have been possible without the funding from the Wembley National Stadium Trust.

“Credit needs to be given to all participating EFL Clubs who have really pushed the boat out to engage as many people with disabilities as possible. It has been a fantastic effort from all involved.

Danny Mills takes a selfie with the young Fleetwood players.

For more information on the Every Player Counts programme, visit: https://www.efltrust.com/projects/every-player-counts/


Ahead of this weekend’s Rainbow Laces campaign the EFL, Premier League, PGMOL, and The FA joined together to produce a unique rainbow photograph to show football standing together in support of LGBT inclusivity.

All 92 League Clubs will be supporting Stonewall’s initiative with various activities including rainbow-coloured captains’ armbands, laces and programme adverts.

In a league first, EFL Clubs will also be proudly displaying rainbow-coloured corner flags at matches this weekend. In addition, England Women’s televised World Cup qualifier against Bosnia & Herzegovina at the Banks’s Stadium on Friday will see all players wearing the rainbow laces. The Premier League has introduced bespoke rainbow branding to its ball plinths, pitch flags, handshake boards, and timing boards. PGMOL will also be showing their support across the four divisions, with all match officials wearing rainbow laces.

Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign aims to make sport everyone’s game with national teams, leading clubs, professional players, fans and grassroots players from across football showing their support for LGBT people in sport.


Pictured left to right: Billy Clarke (Charlton Athletic), Scott Cuthbert (Luton Town), Shandon Baptiste (Oxford United), John Egan (Brentford), Kevin Friend (PGMOL), Luke Prosser (Colchester United), Jack Whatmough (Portsmouth), Fara Williams (England and Reading Ladies), Gary O’Neil (Bristol City) and Mark Noble (West Ham United).

Also pictured in further images: Alex Perry (Bolton Wanderers)

The image is free to use (credit photographer Andy Fallon) and a selection of images are available to download here: https://we.tl/ryUvmxAaPC

‘To say I’m working for the club I support, you just can’t beat it!’

Ben Foster, an 18 year old currently undertaking a coaching apprenticeship at Argyle Community Trust, is a prime example of how the EFL Trust Traineeship programme can open the door to life changing career pathways.

A year ago, Ben had no idea what career route to take and after feeling unmotivated in sixth form during his A-Levels, decided to attend an Apprenticeships and Jobs event, held at the Job Centre.

During the event, he was made aware of the EFL Trust Traineeship Programme with Plymouth Argyle Community Trust, and as a firm Argyle supporter jumped at the opportunity of going on the programme.

He commented: ‘’I was stuck in sixth form struggling with my A-Levels, not enjoying life at all and had no clue what I wanted to be in life.

‘’As a big Argyle fan the Traineeships programme really stood out to me. I wanted to do something a bit different.’’

Upon signing his initial forms and enrolling on to the Traineeship, he began to ease his way into the programme, completing initial employability skills workshops, alongside his first placement sessions in Freedom Fields, working with 11-19 year olds in a real inclusion-based session.

Ben was also involved in supporting the Health & Disability remit, assisting the delivery of ‘It’s a Goal’- an hour long game-based activity for Adults with mental health issues. Ben soon began to realise that he now felt a passion for the area he was working within and enjoyed helping others develop their sporting experience.

The twelve-week Traineeship aims to help young NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) find a new, exciting programme they can become immersed in and re-focus their minds on their individual futures.

As far as Ben was concerned, the learning environment was a perfect to aid his development, both personally and as a budding Sports coach. Each Trainee has the opportunity within their 12 weeks to complete a Sports Leaders UK L2 award as well as their FA Level 1 in Coaching Football, both extremely valuable qualifications when looking to achieve a career in sport.

After consistent delivery during his twelve-week placement with Argyle Community Trust, Ben enhanced his reputation throughout the organisation and secured an apprenticeship in coaching at the club.

He added: ‘’I really enjoyed the Traineeship programme. I feel I’ve improved in many ways during the course. Things such as my confidence, people skills and self-management have all been helped massively.

“The course tutors were amazing, both Dan and Ryan taught us well, looked after us and successfully tutored me to become a qualified coach.

‘’Initially I didn’t think I would ever have chosen sport as a career path, but to now say I’m working for the club I support, I’m really glad I did. You just can’t beat it!’’

To find out more about the EFL Trust Traineeship programme visit: https://www.efltrust.com/projects/traineeships/

Stewart Downing Gets Kids Moving In Middlesbrough

Boro star Stewart Downing visited pupils from Year 5 and 6 at Chandlers Ridge Academy in Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough yesterday afternoon, promoting the +Sport Move and Learn Project.

The former England international dropped in on the primary school’s introductory session to the programme, with the pupils set to start the EFL Trust affiliated scheme in the new year.

Downing showed off his nimble footwork in a game of dodgeball with the children, before heading to the classroom to take part in a memory-based exercise.

The children and Downing shared some of their favourite foods, TV programme’s and sports with each other, before the Middlesbrough man had to sit in the hot chair and remember some of his new classmates’ top choices.

“The children seemed thrilled to have a top Middlesbrough football player visit their class,” said MFC Foundation’s Sports Participation Coordinator Natalie Guy.

“Chandlers Ridge is a school we have worked with for a very long time, and the children are always impeccably behaved. Stewart was brilliant with the group, engaging in the session and had time for everyone waiting for autographs.

“To see a footballer who the pupils can relate to on a personal level due to his locality is fantastic, and you can see that the time with him had a hugely positive effect.”

The specially designed primary schools programme encourages children to take part in physical activity, while helping them to understand the importance of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.

Over the course of six weeks, children spend time in the classroom learning about the body, nutrition and the importance of exercise, through participating in interactive activities. This is then followed by a session dedicated to playing football, dodgeball or handball, with two weeks spent on each sport.

To date, MFC Foundation has delivered the programme locally in 50 schools, with 5400 children impacted. To build on this success, this year they will be reaching 30 schools and 1800 children.


To find out more about the +Sport Move and Learn project visit: https://www.efltrust.com/moveandlearn/

To find out more about MFC Foundation visit: http://www.mfcfoundation.co.uk/

FUTSAL AND EDUCATION: The St George’s Park Experience

EFL Trust Futsal and Education scholars from Grimsby Town and Peterborough United had the opportunity of playing at England’s National Football Centre, St George’s Park, in the EFL Trust Futsal Super Cup Final.

Match Report:

In a match which saw a missed penalty, 6 goals, two own goals and incredible drama from beginning to end went the way of the Mariners at St Georges Park. Both sides displayed a terrific standard of futsal which was a fantastic advertisement for the EFL Trust and youth futsal in general.

Peterborough took the lead in the second minute, a fast counter attack resulted in a low cross turned into his own net by Grimsby’s Ollie Willetts. Willetts was involved soon after this time at the other end of the court, and made amends for his own goal- his cross-cum shot ricocheted off Isaac Saywell and found the back of the net; another own goal.

Grimsby looked to strike again, but were denied on a number of occasions. Harry Burke and Jan Meiwald were both denied by Peterborough’s Harry Wilshire who made a number of important saves. Burke wasn’t to be denied on the second time of asking, his direct run through though Peterborough’s defence presented himself one-on-one with Wilshire, Burke calmly rolled past him and slotted home to give Grimsby a 2-1 lead.

Before today’s game Peterborough’s Antonio Jaquite had found the net 20 times in 10 games, Jaquite added his name to the scoresheet with a low drive past Denson after some strong hold up play to level the scoring just before half time. Jaquite grabbed his second of the game just after the second half restart, some neat one touch passing freed up Jaquite, who made no mistake firing low across Grimsby’s Tyler Denson, sending Posh into a 3-2 lead.

Peterborough created a number of chances at the beginning of the second half, and could have extended their lead, but Grimsby’s Denson made some fine saves to keep the deficit at one. Moments after Denson’s saves, Grimsby were level again, Burke struck for the second time of the afternoon, after his first-time strike from a set piece flicked off the crossbar and into the back of the net.

Both sides had opportunities to win the game, Tom Latif went close for Peterborough, and Alex Aldrich came close to converting a Meiwald cross.

However, this wasn’t the end of the drama. The referee indicated that Grimsby were on their 5th foul, and any foul after this point would result in a 10 metre penalty for Peterborough. Incredibly, with 4 seconds left Leo Kilday upended Peterborough’s Saywell which handed Peterborough the chance to win the game from 10 metres. Jake Cooper stepped up and slammed his penalty against the post- agony for Peterborough. The final whistle blew, this final headed to penalties.

After 3 successfully converted spot kicks each, Grimsby’s Captain Meiwald saw his effort saved. Peterborough had another chance to win the EFL Super Cup, but couldn’t convert their next penalty past Denson, meaning it was all still level. Grimsby’s Josh Carver-Mill smashed his penalty home, and Denson made himself the hero with another save from Peterborough’s next penalty – Grimsby Town were the 2017 EFL Trust Super Cup winners.

To find out more about the Futsal and Education Programme visit: https://www.efltrust.com/futsal/

Diabetes not stopping Logan from achieving his dream

Blackburn Rovers season ticket holder Logan Prince has type one diabetes but that has not stopped the ten-year-old playing the sport he lives and breathes.

The talented young footballer has been participating in Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Football Camps for nearly five years and it has completely changed both his and his family’s life around.

Since joining the Football Camp, Logan has been signed by the club’s academy, joined local Sunday team Blackburn Eagles and thoroughly enjoying his life.

Logan is cared for by single mother of three, Joanne Prince, who also has a daughter with epilepsy, and she can’t speak highly enough of the support she has received from Blackburn Rovers Community Trust with all the coaches voluntarily taking the necessary training in order to help support him.

She said: “The coaches have been absolutely fantastic and I couldn’t have coped without them. It is a 24 hour job taking care of Logan but all the staff took it upon themselves to get fully trained so they know all about his care in order for him to join the Football Camp.

“He has been to every one ever since he started and Blackburn Rovers Community Trust have gone above and beyond my expectations and become part of the family now!”

It was just over six years ago when Logan was diagnosed with type one diabetes, shortly after his fourth birthday.

The news shocked the family as Joanne explained how they control Logan’s diabetes and how they want to raise awareness for the illness. She continued: “I have to check him day and night because his blood levels can fluctuate and I also have to assess him every time he eats.

“We noticed his symptoms when he was four and the doctors initially thought it was just a migraine but two weeks later he was rushed into hospital and placed in intensive care before he was diagnosed.

“We have to check his blood more than eight times per day. For the first two years he had the condition, I never left his side, but the Football Camp was something he wanted to do and you can’t stop them doing it. He loved it straight away and it has given him so much more confidence and freedom.

“It has not only given Logan something to do but it has given me a break too. It is a lot for such a child to go through but he is a fantastic son and we are proud of him.

“He is determined and this is not going to stop him from what he wants to achieve.”

The ten-year old, who predominately plays as a midfielder, added: “I love coming to the Football Camp at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and it is so much better than sitting there and feeling sorry for myself.

“I have made so many new friends by coming along and I want to keep on coming because everyone looks after me and I have such a good time.”


Brad’s story: From bricklayer to full-time coach at Exeter City Academy

Brad Miller, a full-time Foundation Lead Coach at Exeter City Academy, explains how his time and experience on the EFL Trust Futsal and Education Programme helped him land his dream job in coaching.

The 24 year old, who is currently working towards his UEFA A License, was one of the first students to progress through the Futsal and Education Programme when it began.

If it wasn’t for his drastic decision to change his career pathway at 16, he probably wouldn’t be where he is now.

He said: ‘’At the age of 16 I worked for a brick laying company and I soon realised it really wasn’t for me.

‘’I have always had an underlying passion for football and coaching. As soon as I heard about the Futsal and Education Programme and what it entailed, I had to get involved.’’

The EFL Trust Futsal and Education programme specialises in offering a platform to young people who love sport but aren’t motivated by the classroom environment, presenting a different way to learn and progress in their careers.

Brad continues: ‘’As a technical player, I have always been a big admirer of futsal. I felt the sport suited my playing background and it helped me to improve my game.

‘’The programme gave me a great platform and a good base knowledge of sport and education. The staff really help you progress with whatever it is you want to do.’’

On the programme, students are based in and around a professional football club. This environment really motivated Brad to pluck up the courage and move into a career in football coaching.

Brad added: ‘’Being in the professional environment really inspired me to better myself and gain my dream career in football coaching.

‘’The staff at the club provided me with so many opportunities to pick up coaching hours alongside completing my studies.

‘’I would always make myself available and worked very hard to move my way up the coaching ‘ladder’.’’

Brad obtained valuable coaching practise through Exeter City’s ‘three tier progression pathway’ – a system designed to cater to the development of talented young players.

The system starts from tier three (ages 6-15) at Advanced Development Centre level all the way to tier one at Academy level, and allows players to evolve at their own speed and progress to higher levels if, and when, they are ready.

After completing the Futsal and Education programme and gaining a variety of coaching experience in the progression pathway system, Brad achieved his UEFA B License and was offered a full-time role at the club’s academy.

Now into his second season in the role, Brad says his particular coaching style has stemmed from his time as a player on the Futsal and Education programme – he always looks for technical attributes in younger players.

‘’Young players are like a blank canvas and then you mould them into your philosophy as a club and as a coach.

‘’I think how I coach now comes from my time on the Futsal programme. I try to help players become more technical, quick and good on the ball.’’

‘’It’s so fulfilling when you see them flourish and progress. They have so much energy.’’

To find out more about the Futsal and Education Programme visit: https://www.efltrust.com/futsal/