‘Every Player Counts’ provides the chance for all to get involved in football

As part of the EFL Day of Disabilities, the EFL Trust and Wembley National Stadium Trust are celebrating the relaunch of ‘Every Player Counts’, a programme which enables disabled people to take part in football.

A further £0.5m donation from Wembley National Stadium Trust will create new opportunities as the disability football programme moves into its fourth successive year.

There are 10.9 million disabled people in England, accounting for 20 per cent of the total population. Seven out of ten disabled people want to be more active and psychological barriers play the biggest role in preventing people from taking part in sport.

The EFL Trust and Wembley National Stadium Trust have worked together successfully for the past 3 years, to get over 11,000 disabled people into football. 28 Football Club Community Organisations across the country offer the programme, specifically developed for the needs of people in their local community, including both physical and learning impairments. .

As we celebrate EFL Day of Disabilities, EFL Football Club Community Organisations are helping fans to get involved in football, many for the first time, by delivering a wide range of local programmes. The magnetism of Football Clubs and the engagement with fans and the wider community provides a great opportunity for us to reach fans who may not have had a chance to participate in football before.

At Portsmouth, a programme runs for junior amputees, at Colchester, a Downs Syndrome group meet to play and at QPR, people who are deaf or hearing impaired play at the club’s training ground.

Following the first three years, during which more people got involved in the programme than had been initially planned, further funding has been agreed between the parties.

The new funding has been allocated to a mix of new CCO’s alongside some of the original providers with the aim of evolving and expanding provision and sustainability of the programme.

The impact of being able to play football can be highly significant on individuals’ lives as we have seen throughout the past three years. A good example is Ben, who has taken part in the programme at Shrewsbury Football Club.

Paul Evison, Ben’s father said:

“Ben has a muscle wasting condition. His muscles were wasting away. We brought him here [Shrewsability sessions] and he’s had a new lease of life, he absolutely loves it. Shrewsbury Town has given Ben confidence, that’s all we wanted – to get him somewhere where he felt confident, so his muscles wouldn’t waste away. I really believe if Shrewsbury Town wasn’t here and he didn’t do the Shrewsability sessions, Ben wouldn’t be here. This has kept him going. It really is a life changing thing.”

Mike Evans, Director of Operations, EFL Trust said:

 “We are very proud of the first three successful years of Every Player Counts programme. As we move into the next two years, we are pleased to add funding from our own organisation’s charity reserves to expand the reach and opportunities within this programme. We look forward to hearing the many moving stories that we have become used to as the programme literally changes and improves the lives of its many participants.”

Stewart Goshawk, CEO Wembley National Stadium Trust said:

“Every Player Counts has been our flagship programme for the past three years.  The range and quality of opportunities created for disabled people to play football has been so impressive, with participants coming back week after week.  We know the positive impact that football can have to improve people’s quality of life, and through this programme we have seen countless examples.  That is why we are delighted to continue our support for a further two years, with with an additional £0.5m to add to the £1m previously committed.”

 

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  • The EFL Trust is the charitable arm of the EFL. The EFL Trust was established in 2008 to oversee the diverse and important work that its clubs and Club Community Organisations were carrying out in their communities.
  • The EFL Trust unites the inspirational work delivered across England and Wales by the dedicated network of Football Club Community Organisations associated to the 72 Clubs.
  • EFL Day of Disability aims to bring all Clubs come together and share the positive work undertaken to ensure an inclusive environment for disabled supporters.
  • Wembley National Stadium Trust is the iconic stadium’s charitable foundation, receiving 1% of the venue’s annual income, distributed in grants for community sports activities, locally in the London Borough of Brent, where the stadium is located, as well as around London and more widely across the country.
  • Every Player Counts Clubs across the country are showcasing their work this week – for more information contact Michelle Robbins, Head of Marketing and Communications for EFL Trust on 07966206514 or mrobbins@efltrust.com.

Every Player Counts Clubs:

Barnsley

Blackpool

Bolton Wanderers

Burton Albion

Cambridge United

Colchester United

Derby

Doncaster Rovers

Exeter City

Fulham

Leeds

Middlesbrough

Millwall

MK Dons

Newport County

Northampton Town

Plymouth Argyle

Portsmouth

Preston North End

QPR

Reading

Sheffield Wednesday

Shrewsbury

Southend

Stoke

Sunderland

Swansea

Wigan Athletic

 

Oxford United in the Community and Oxford University Club join forces to deliver blind football coaching

Oxford United in the Community and Oxford University Association Football Club have launched a new football course for the blind and visually impaired.

The new weekly course takes place at Acer Nethercott Sports Hall in the Iffley Road Sports Centre. It is open to people aged 18 and above and is run by qualified blind and partially sighted football coaches.

The opening session was led by special guest Steve Cunningham, who played blind football for England. It was attended by able-sighted students from Oxford University AFC, to experience how the visually impaired play sport and to sport the launch of the programme.

The course has been made possible thanks to donations from Oxford United fans to the club’s charity when purchasing match-tickets which is being used to contribute towards the cost of coaching. Additionally, Oxford University AFC have donated the cost of pitch hire and Bucks and Berks FA have loaned specially adapted footballs and eye-masks. Other key partners include Oxford United, Oxfordshire Association for the Blind, Oxfordshire FA and Active Oxfordshire.

Chris Lowes, Head of Oxford United in the Community, said: “We’ve been working closely with a number of key delivery partners to make this course a reality and are proud to launch this week. This demonstrates what can be achieved when local charities and football clubs work together, and we look forward to making a positive impact for the blind and partially sighted community in Oxfordshire.

“Hopefully we can inspire people to take part and enjoy sport and become part of a wider community. We’re delighted to be expanding our provision and offering new opportunities to people in Oxfordshire. We’re extremely grateful for the generosity of Oxford United fans, Oxford University Association Football Club and the OFA for making this happen.”

Michael Thurlow, Football Development Manager at the Oxfordshire Football Association said: “We are delighted to support Oxford United in the Community to expand the disability football provision on offer in the county with this fantastic new and exciting project. This supports our ambition to provide everyone in Oxfordshire with a disability an opportunity to participate.”

The course will be run by Oxford United in the Community coaches on Thursdays between 12.30 and 2pm. It is hoped an U18 programme will be introduced in the future. For more details please contact community@oufc.co.uk.

Oxford United in the Community is the football club’s official charity and helps inspire youngsters to reach their potential and improve their health and wellbeing via the power of football, engagement and education.

The charity is currently celebrating its 30-year anniversary. As part of the anniversary celebrations the charity launched a Dream Big Appeal to raise funds in its 30th year to help it do more impactful work across Oxfordshire. People can donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/OUITC30YEARS

World Cerebral Palsy Day: Jordi’s story

As part of World Cerebral Palsy Day (6th October), we are highlighting a fantastic story about one individual who has attended Cardiff City FC Foundation’s sessions for over seven years.

Jordi, who is now 12 years old, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of two, with his disability having the most impact on his legs as well as his arms and torso from time to time.

Jordi has been using a Kaye walker in everyday life, but luckily was “born with a happy and sunny personality which has enabled him to cope with his disability in a remarkable way” says his Mum, Natalie.

The Bluebirds Charity run a number of PAN disability sessions funded by Children in Need throughout the week, which uses sport as a tool to encourage physical health and activity, social interaction and improve confidence.

Natalie said: “I took Jordi along to a session just before his fifth birthday, and it was the first sporting activity he had ever taken part in. After attending these sessions, it has inspired Jordi to go on and try other sports like tennis, swimming and cricket,” she says.

Jordi has had three separate surgical procedures in the time he has been attending the disability sessions run by the Bluebirds Charity, seeing him have his Achilles’ tendons extended, consistent Botox in his legs and most recently, re-adjusting his femurs with the hope that he’ll eventually be able to walk unaided.

Natalie added: “Jordi really does enjoy the sessions; they were one of a kind when we were looking and we’re now so grateful that they were running because it’s helped him so much. The other sports that Jordi took part in sort of faded away, whereas the Children in Need sessions have been ever-present.”

Jordi was recently rewarded by the Foundation for his hard work and positive attitude to recover from his recent operation by being given a mascot position, leading the Bluebirds out against Brighton at Cardiff City Stadium. Giving Jordi the opportunity to take part in sport despite his disability has seen him take a huge step in achieving his full potential.

Jordi was also recently named as the Foundation’s Community Participant of the Year at Cardiff City FC’s 2019 Awards Night after showing dedication and passion to our Bluebirds Ability sessions.

Jordi said: “The sessions on a Sunday are very good, I wouldn’t miss them for the world. They really help me improve my football skills and I’ve made loads of new friends.”

Cardiff City FC Community Foundation is celebrating 10 years of changing lives. Over the last 10 years the Bluebirds Charity has invested more than £10 million into sport and education programmes in local communities and supported over 230,000 individuals to achieve their full potential.

Louie: “NCS made me who I am today”

“They were the worst two years of my life. I was shy, nervous and wouldn’t talk to people” says Louie Salmon, 16, from Peterborough.

However fast forward two years after completing NCS (National Citizen Service) and Louie is a very different person, he now has the confidence to stand in front of peers and tell his story whilst also securing a job with his local football team.

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Conrad’s story: From participant, to student, to full-time coach.

From Community Trust participant, to student, to full-time member of staff, Conrad Britton has been involved with the Bristol City Community Trust for nearly half of his life.

Conrad first got involved with Bristol City Community Trust (BCCT) at the age of ten, through the Trust’s Premier League Kicks programme.

After finishing school, Conrad pursued his passion for football by joining the Community Trust’s post-16 education and futsal programme. Whilst studying there, Conrad frequently volunteered to shadow and assist BCCT coaches on their delivery of various different footballing sessions.

As a youngster Conrad was a shy individual however these coaching opportunities enabled him to build up his confidence.

Conrad’s excellent commitment to both his studies and his volunteering saw him offered a coaching apprenticeship at BCCT which has since become a full-time job as a community coach.

Conrad told the Trust, “As a kid, I was quite a shy individual and I didn’t have much self-confidence, I used to use football as an outlet to express myself.

“I used to absolutely love coming along to the Premier League Kicks sessions that the (Bristol City) Community Trust held as all of the coaches were really welcoming and friendly and it just gave me a good way to get out and have fun.”

“I guess it was these sessions that first gave me the inspiration to pursue a career in football coaching.

“I’m really proud of how far I have come. I now coach football sessions at the same school that I used to go to when I was younger.”

Chief Executive Officer of Bristol City Community Trust, Dan White, commented, “Conrad is an absolute attribute to the Trust and it’s brilliant to see how much progress this young man has made during his time with us at the Community Trust.

“Conrad’s progression also highlights what our education programme is all about, we don’t simply focus on exam results, rather we focus on developing our students all around and providing them with the skills they need to pursue a career in the industry that they love.”

#GreatCoaching #CoachingWeek

Trevor: “I’ve lost 6 stone in 2 years with Stevenage FC Foundation and it’s physically and mentally changed my life.”

Two years ago, Trevor Prowse, who was overweight and suffered from severe anxiety, never thought he would be able to do everyday activities like playing with his grandchild or talking to a stranger on the phone.

It wasn’t until he was referred by his GP to meet Healthy Lifestyles Officer Hannah Marsh at Stevenage FC Foundation, when his life turned around.

Hannah said: “When I first met Trevor he told me our meeting was the first time he had left his house in a week due to his anxiety being that severe and he was very unsure about taking part in any exercise.

“He agreed to try our ‘Introduction to Exercise’ class and despite his apprehensions, he took part, thoroughly enjoyed himself and hasn’t looked back since.”

Stevenage FC Foundation’s Introduction to Exercises classes are designed for people with long-term medical conditions (both physical and mental) and are mainly circuit based.

The sessions also incorporate other activities like Soccercise, Pilates and Boxercise and have a strong element of social support with the group regularly opening up and sharing their experiences and struggles with their health.

In the two years that Trevor has been involved, he has lost a remarkable 6 stone and his blood pressure has dropped, to the point where he no longer has to take medication.

Talking about his experiences, he said: “I started suffering with severe anxiety from my early 20’s, so really suffered for a good 30 years.

“It effects your whole life and makes you so self-conscious, to the point where you can’t even leave the house or do very much.

“Taking that huge step to take part in the sessions at Stevenage FC Foundation was such a life-changing decision for me.

“It’s made a huge difference, I’m doing things now I never dreamed of – last weekend I even went sky diving!

“It’s also the little things that make all the difference. I recently became a Grandad for the first time, and when I was overweight I wouldn’t have been able to do very much.

“But now, I can be active and spend time with him and it means so much.

“Anxiety has been a part of my life for so long – but those simple things are really what make all the difference.”

The 58 year-old credits the sessions for not only helping him physically, but mentally, as he no longer dreads meeting new people and looks forward to classes each week.

 He added: “Stevenage FC Foundation, the course they run and Hannah are all superb and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone.

“There are people there of all ages, all levels of fitness and everybody is there for their own reason – I consider the people in my class as not just friends, but even family now.

“The sessions have allowed me to realise that there are people who will help you if you are struggling, you just have to open up.

“Something may seem daunting at first but once you get over that barrier in yourself and try it, it may just be one of the best things you ever do.”

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

 

Active Minds Group proving a prolific hit, as Mansfield FC Football in the Community tackles Mental Health

Mansfield Town Football in the Community are delighted to announce that their proactive approach to tackling Mental Health is continuing to grow, having seen increased numbers attending their ‘Active Minds’ sessions.

Taking place every Friday at the One Call Stadium, the ‘Active Minds’ sessions tackle Mental Health issues such as loneliness, low self-esteem & self-confidence, PTSD and anxiety – along with improving the lives of those living with Dementia.

Since the groups launch in March, Football in the Community have seen a vast increase in the number of people attending the group, with participants enjoying a different activity each week, designed to encourage team work and improve confidence through the power of sport and play.

Led by Football in the Community coaches, activities have included a number of outdoor sports games, music therapy, board game sessions, interactive quizzes and indoor fitness classes – activities which have proved a real hit with participants, old and new.

“My husband is a different person when he comes here, and I know that many of the other wives have seen the same transformation” – Carol Wright, wife on long-term participant Peter, who lives with Dementia.

“It’s such a simple set-up and to get as much out of it as they do is unbelievable. It’s the friendship that they get out of it, they come here and can talk for hours, whilst they can be at home and not speak for hours, like you’ve fallen out, you haven’t that’s just Dementia.”

“He has a different expression on a Friday morning; he knows he’s coming here and he really lights up – it’s worked wonders for his wellbeing, knowing every week he’s coming here gives him a focus.

“The main things I get out of these sessions is seeing that he is happy, it’s different to the rest of the week. When you first get these sort of diagnoses you think that you’re excluded from the rest of the world and that nobody cares, there’s a stigma to it – but here [at Active Minds] that simply doesn’t exist.” 

Mark Hemingray, Head of Community, said: “Active Minds has been a really successful project for us so far, the fact that we can split in into two strands [Chat – Focussing more on Dementia & those unable to participate in physical activities, and Sport – focussing on outdoor sport for younger males] allows us to make an impact across the community.

“Playing games and doing something competitive releases endorphins into the brain and body and it’s been scientifically proven that that has a real positive effect on those living with Dementia, and those living with any form of Mental illness – which is why we design our sessions the way we do.”

Participant Kurt Eggington said “It’s great to have that camaraderie between the group, although we may not be in the same situation across the board we all have our own issues which we are trying to deal with.

“The important thing about basing the group around football and sport is that it’s a common denominator – everybody that comes here for example has an affiliation to the Football Club – it’s always a central point, a focal point.

“Without taking that first step [in joining the activity] you never know if it’s going to be of assistance to you, you may just find if it makes life that little bit easier for you and it does give you something to look forward to, as it does me”

Active Minds sessions take place every Friday at the One Call Stadium and are FREE to attend. ‘Active Minds: Chat’ is suitable for anyone living with dementia or may be living with mental health problems, unable to participate in physical activity – ‘Active Minds: Sport’ is for males aged 18+ battling any form of mental health issue and contains more physical sporting activities – to find out more about the sessions or what may be of benefit to you or a friend, you can contact Football in the Community in confidence on 01623 656 920 or email community@mansfieldtownfitc.net with the subject title ‘Active Minds’.

National Siblings Day: Twins Grace and Lauren are excelling at Bristol City Community Trust

 

On National Siblings Day we showcase the fantastic work of twin sisters Grace and Lauren Phillips who are second year students on Bristol City Community Trust’s football and futsal BTEC level 3 extended diploma in sport programme.

After excelling in their studies, they are both on track to achieving the grade of triple distinction star in their sports diplomas, a result which has led them to receiving offers to continue their studies at Gloucester University next year.

As well as exceeding in the classroom, the two sisters are key players in the Community Trust’s women’s futsal team and have played an integral part in the teams journey in making it to the National Finals which will be played at England’s St George’s Park next month.

Chloe Rogers, who is Sports Lecturer and Futsal Academy Coach at Bristol City Community Trust, has worked closely with the girls in improving their futsal performance. Talking about her experience of coaching the girls, she said:

“They are both a joy to coach, competing is in their blood and the passion they have every time they step on to play whether that be in training or fixtures is admirable, they encourage others and only recently whilst we were competing in Portugal they stepped up and encouraged the younger girls which is a coach’s dream.”

As well as studying with The Robins, Grace and Lauren are also members of the Trust’s Youth Council – a body of eight young people who help to shape the work done at the Community Trust – and have been since the council’s conception nearly three years ago.

During their time on the Youth Council, the twins have been involved in representing the Trust at Parliament during last year’s regional EFL Awards event and they have both received national recognition for their work after winning the 2017/18 FA Women’s Football Award for ‘Best Participation Initiative’ for the Trust’s ‘Future Fives’ initiative – a programme which they masterminded.

In addition to this, Grace and Lauren have each spent over 400 hours volunteering with the Trust on various different projects and programmes and are currently working at Easter Holiday football camps.

Head of Education at the Trust, Chris Stenner, commented that, “Lauren and Grace are two inspirational young women who have given a lot back to their local community.

“They have continued that hard work in the class room and on the pitch and are a credit to the Trust.”

Talking about her experience of volunteering for the Trust, Lauren said, “Volunteering for the Trust has been great, and it has been really rewarding to give something back to the local community.”

To find out more about Bristol City Community Trust visit: https://www.bcfc.co.uk/bristol-city-community-trust/ 

 

World Health Day – Extra Time Hubs

Today (7th April 2019) is World Health Day. A day to raise global awareness and local conversations about ways to achieve health for all.

We, alongside our 72 EFL Club Community Trusts, use the power of sport to improve health and well-being in local communities around the UK.

Working across all age groups and sections of the community from healthy eating sessions in primary schools through to sessions helping those suffering from dementia.

Extra Time Hubs

Extra Time Hubs is a national project from the EFL Trust that is delivered by 12 EFL Clubs. The Hubs harness the power of football Clubs in the local communities to bring people together and improve health and well-being.

The project, that was made possible thanks to National Lottery funding from Sport England, aims to bring together retired and semi-retired people, getting them involved in a range of activities such as arts and crafts, table tennis, walks, talks, bungee jumping, quizzes and music in their free time.

Those involved have the opportunity to meet and spend time with like-minded people in their area, proving that you’re never too old to learn to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

Mike Evans, EFL Trust Director of Operations said: “With the support of Sport England’s Active Ageing fund from the National Lottery, we use the power of our football club badges to bring people together in a comfortable, familiar environment and allow them to shape their future path to improved health and well-being.”

World Health Day – Football Fans in Training

Today (7th April 2019) is World Health Day. A day to raise global awareness and local conversations about ways to achieve health for all.

We, alongside our 72 EFL Club Community Trusts, use the power of sport to improve health and well-being in local communities around the UK.

Working across all age groups and sections of the community from healthy eating sessions in primary schools through to sessions helping those suffering from dementia.

Football Fans in Training (FFIT)

The Football Fans in Training scheme, delivered by 5 EFL Club Community Trusts [Swindon Town, Wycombe Wanderers, Blackpool, Middlesbrough and Charlton Athletic], is aimed at overweight football fans, encouraging them to lose weight, get fit and live a healthier, more active life.

Fans on the scheme take part in a 12-week training programme delivered by Club community coaches at their team’s home stadium. They are also grounded in current science of how to eat more healthily and become more active.

Since running the FFIT project, Swindon Town FC Community Foundation have helped more than 200 fans lose more than 250 stone collectively.

One participant in particular on The Robins’ programme, Dave Potts, was the biggest loser out of the group that ran in 2018, after losing nearly 3 stone and 16cm off his waist (16.3% of his starting weight).

Talking about his experience on the programme he said: “Since starting the Football Fans in Training programme I’m a lot fitter, sleeping better and I’m lot happier.

“The result that was a real shock to me was that my blood pressure has come down by over 15%.

“The course has made so many huge changes in my life.”

Mike Evans, Director of Operations at EFL Trust said: “The EFL Trust is committed to improving the lives of people within EFL communities across country and Football Fans in Training is proven to be a great way to get people to think about sustainable changes to improve their lives.

“We are proud of the work in our EFL Clubs in this area so far and hope to do more to address this important challenge going forward.”