Foundation hosts Premier League Disability Football Festival

Foundation hosts Premier League Disability Football Festival Image

Wolves Foundation hosted a hugely successful Premier League Disability Football Festival with players from across the country taking part in another fantastic day of competition at Compton Park.

Teams representing Foundations from Aston Villa, Birmingham, West Bromwich Albion and Walsall were joined by others from further afield including Liverpool and Manchester United for the annual event.

The day saw four sides lift the trophy in their respective tournaments, with a win for Wolves and Everton in the under-11s, while Aston Villa and Manchester United took the under-16s honours.

But football was the real winner, with the pan-disability festival contested by 24 teams, including participants with cerebral palsy, autism and visual impairment, played out in a great spirit.

There are three end-of-season Disability Football Festivals taking place across the country, with Middlesbrough and Chelsea hosting the other two, Wolves having been asked to deliver in the central region for the second successive year.

“It was a real privilege to be asked to host this year’s festival at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground, and, for the second successive year, it proved a fantastic day,” said Luke Shearing, community and cohesion manager with Wolves Foundation.

“All the different Club Community organisations across the country aim to try and make football more inclusive to all, and this event offers young people with different disabilities the opportunity to get together and compete at such a fantastic facility at Wolves’ training ground.

“Here at Wolves, we continue to see the growth of our Football Disability set-up, which is also showcased with the half time game at our annual Foundation Focus Fixture, but it’s always good to catch up with colleagues at days like this, to share experiences and best practice.”

It wasn’t just about the football for participants with the Combat Community MMA Academy in attendance to lead the warm-up, deliver a segment in basic martial arts self-defence techniques and a fun cool down game at the end.

Each team also took part in a ‘Super Movers’ workshop including football and boccia, a paralympic sport similar to bowls. The initiative from BBC Teach, the Premier League and ParalympicsGB encourages all children to get active, and particularly aims to help disabled pupils feel more included in sport at school.

Special guests were two of the Foundation’s ‘own’ – staff member Damien Wood who has been capped 99 times by the England Deaf team, and volunteer Tayla Page, who plays for the England Amputee team and received the Foundation’s Leadership Award at last year’s inaugural gala dinner.

Foundation staff delivered the competition at Under-11 and Under-16 levels, which included round robin group stages before the knockout matches, and both Wolves Foundation teams put on a great showing.

The under-11s side put in some fantastic performances throughout the day, with victories against Manchester United and Cheltenham Town on the way to a 1-0 triumph over Burton Albion in the final.

The team were represented by Woodsetton Primary School, where Wolves Foundation staff deliver weekly SEND sessions (special educational needs and disabilities) to increase physical activity and mental wellbeing within SEND schools.

Meanwhile, despite not collecting silverware this time, the Under-16s team also put in some excellent displays, recording wins against Walsall, Burton and Bristol City and certainly doing Wolves proud.

Wolves Disability FC provides weekly training sessions and a programme of regular fixtures for over 80 participants across three different age groups.

Three adult teams, three under-16s and two under-12s play fixtures in the Staffordshire Ability Counts League, including at the home of English football at St George’s Park.

"Of course it’s so important to give back to the community and Wolverhampton as a whole. It's great to be here and to show our support."

Maximilian Kilman | Wolves Captain and Foundation Ambassador

"As a lifelong Wolves fan, to represent the Club and Foundation is something I'll cherish forever."

Daz James | Wolves Disability FC

"Without Wolves Foundation I wouldn't be here today, that's for certain."

John Martin | Head 4 Health participant

"It is amazing to be out there meeting people and having some fun. It is really important for Wolves to have this connection with the fans and to see the happiness in their faces."

Toti Gomes | Wolves Defender

"Savannah absolutely loves the group. The staff are committed to making every single session fun and welcoming."

Natasha | Healthy Goals parent

"It’s special because it's my club and I’m so proud to be from Wolves as well. I can see the projects and all the work Wolves Foundation are doing and I know it makes such an impact, so to even be a little part of that and to help out where I can – it's so exciting."

Amber Sandhu | Broadcaster and Foundation Ambassador

"It’s huge for the school, I can’t speak highly enough of Wolves Foundation and the opportunities that they give us."

Mr Robinson | Woodsetton School

“I think all football clubs should be the beating heart of their communities and Wolves, through the Foundation, manages to do that."

Johnny Phillips | Sky Sports Presenter and Foundation Ambassador

"We get loads of different opportunities with a Premier League club. I feel really privileged to be a part of it."

Mustafa | Football & Education College Academy student

"Frank has Alzheimer’s Disease and when he was first diagnosed we felt lost and alone. Attending Molineux Memories is a lifeline for both of us; it is run by friendly, committed staff who ensure that everyone is included and enjoys themselves."

Frank and Alison | Molineux Memories

"To come here and be hands on with the kids is unreal. Working with Wolves and the Foundation is a blessing and I'm honoured. It feels surreal sometimes but it's the best feeling."

S-X | Music Producer and Foundation Ambassador

"It's good to give back what you got. Football and the Wolves Foundation help me, so I like to help the community."

Taye | Premier League Kicks

"Wolves is a fantastic football club, and they’re excelling off the pitch as well with all the brilliant community work that the Foundation does. The passion of the coaches and the opportunities to play are amazing."

Jack Rutter | Former Great Britain Paralympian and Foundation Ambassador

"Wolves has definitely helped my personal development, but now also helps me to develop people I work with. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the opportunities Wolves Foundation have given me."

Carl Ackasovs | Wolves Foundation

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