Young people representing Watford FC, and Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust (Trust), have won the 14-16-year-old-mixed tournaments at one of three Premier League Disability Football Festivals.
The pan-disability football festivals aim to create opportunities for players to develop their skills and confidence in a supportive environment, catering for the needs of people who are neurodivergent and those who have sensory or physical disabilities.
More than 450 participants representing more than 40 professional football clubs came together at one of three festivals, hosted by Wolverhampton Wanderers, Burnley and Chelsea this summer, to celebrate the Premier League’s year-round commitment to providing access to football for all.
The team representing the Hornets came together through their inclusion in Premier League Kicks (PL Kicks), delivered by the Trust across Hertfordshire and Harrow. The team were also teammates from the local grassroots Club, Everett Rovers FC.
One of the players on the day was PL Kicks participant Rocco, he said:
“It was such an amazing day, meeting new people, seeing new faces. I was so happy with the way the day ran, loved the training sessions, and matches!”
Rocco’s dad added:
“What a fantastic experience for our children. A well-put-together day that benefited everyone. We are so grateful for the experience. Such an amazing memory for our son who can’t wait for the next one!”
Premier League Head of Community and Football Policy, Nick Perchard, said:
“This year’s Premier League Disability Football Festivals, delivered in partnership with professional football club community organisations, offered a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the importance of football for everyone.
“We know that the Covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on participation by people with a disability. These festivals not only offer young people the opportunity to develop their technical ability, the physical and social benefits they gain from coming together with other young people from clubs across England and Wales are vitally important, helping to remove barriers to participation and raising aspirations across the game.”
The Premier League Disability Football Festivals are a celebration of how the Premier League’s community programmes – Premier League Kicks, Premier League Inspires and Premier League Primary Stars – connect young people aged from five to 18 with football, providing positive opportunities to help them to reach their potential.
This year’s Premier League Disability Football Festivals have seen more than 50 teams take part in a series of 6-a-side games, activities, and workshops. This builds on the success of last season’s Premier League Kicks Cup pan-disability tournament, which saw more than 150 young people representing 19 professional football club community organisations take part.
In addition to a series of tournament games, players had the opportunity to take part in a range of additional activities across the three events, including climbing and golf sessions, with workshops to support players’ mental health and wellbeing also available at each event.
The Trust introduced targeted disability provision into their PL Kicks delivery in 2019 and since then has supported 861 young people with a disability through their sessions.
Nationally, more than 15,000 participants who reported having a disability took part in Premier League Kicks, Premier League Inspires and Premier League Primary Stars sessions across England and Wales in Season 2021/22, up 18% on Season 2020/21.
To find out more about the Premier League’s inclusive community activities, please visit premierleague.com or if you’d like to find out more about the local opportunities within the Watford FC CSE Trust’s delivery of Premier League Kicks, please contact email@example.comClick here for more information on Premier League Kicks