STEVE Clarke has paid tribute to Albion Foundation’s disability department and their One Albion project.
The project is funded through Short Breaks funding from Sandwell Council, the Premier League and Players Football Association Fund and provides grass root opportunities in special schools and special educational needs units of mainstream schools for young people with disabilities and learning difficulties.
The young people progress to a series of development centres covering a range of disabilities and have the chance to be selected for Sporting Club Albion teams.
It is an opportunity for the players to compete at a regional, national and international level and currently four power chair, visually impaired, blind, four Pan Senior, Pan girls, Pan junior and Down syndrome teams compete.
Speaking at their recent awards evening at The Hawthorns, where he was accompanied by Baggies defender Steven Reid, Clarke said: “I came along last year to this event and I was truly blown away with what I saw.
“I have over the last season got to know a few of you a bit more.
“You are all inspiring to me, you inspire me to do better and I feel great humility being able to share in your success.”
The duo presented individual and team awards to all of the teams and development centres and the evening culminated in two special awards, the Outstanding Achievement Award to Tony Kay for a volunteer who has gone above and beyond, and the Dedication Award to blind footballer Ian McNamara for the player who had also gone the extra mile and this special award.
Also on the evening the audience of over 200 enjoyed a presentation from power chair player Dave Lewis, who shared his inspirational life story.
Dave has battled through more than 30 operations but has through Sporting Club Albion achieved tremendous sporting success.
As captain of SCA Throstle’s power chair team he rounded off a memorable evening by picking up both the Managers’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards.
Rob Lake, Albion Foundation Director, added “This is one of the highlights of our Foundation calendar and was another brilliant evening.
“Having the support of Steve Clarke and Steven Reid is so important and made the night for the players.
“There was a wonderful atmosphere in the room and it also got quite emotional when Dave spoke and we watch the video of the power chair team going to Paris for the Champions League.
“This is a massive team effort and I would like to thank all of my staff who carry out amazing work, the volunteers, players, parents and carers for their contribution.
“We are also very grateful to Rob Bache and Bache Pallets for their sponsorship of the disability teams.”