Round-up of player involvement with The Albion Foundation
ALBION players swapped the training pitch for the playground last week to support a breadth of community activities across the Black Country and beyond.
James Morrison and Gareth McAuley went head-to-head in a quiz that tested their knowledge of each other and their team-mates in front of an audience of children that are in care. James revealed that he preferred pyjamas to a onesie and was inspired to play football professionally by his father; an ex Chelsea pro, while Gareth gained his inspiration from his footballing Grandad.
The Foundation works in partnership with Sandwell’s ‘Looked after Children in Education’ team to support children in care to raise their aspirations.
Craig Dawson and Allan Nyom visited Kicks at Hadley Stadium, Smethwick - a Premier League-funded programme that provides positive football activities to young people. Despite the freezing temperatures both took part in a penalty shootout and reiterated to the young players that they should always enjoy their football, practice hard and never give up!
Matt Phillips and Hal Robson-Kanu visited the Girls’ Regional Talent Centre to participate in a training session at the University of Wolverhampton which marked the official opening of their 3G AstroTurf. The girls train twice a week and play competitive matches. Recently the Under-14s and Under-16s have beaten the likes of Manchester City, Stoke City and Manchester United.
After passing on some training tips, the Under-12s asked Matty and Hal to take on the Mannequin Challenge and they duly obliged! Go to @WBAFoundation to view the result!
Nacer Chadli and Brendan Galloway surprised participants at one of the Foundation’s Player Development Centres (PDCs) at ‘Goals’, Blackheath, while Chris Brunt, Craig Gardner, Boaz Myhill and Callum McManaman did the same at a PDC hosted by Q3 Academy, Great Barr. Jonathan Leko, Sam Field and Kane Wilson made the trip to Redditch United to participate in a Worcestershire-based PDC.
The Foundation’s Player Development Centres follow Albion’s Football Academy curriculum and can provide a pathway from grassroots into professional football. Galloway and Chadli supported the young participants with distribution and heading, while Field told to the participants “this is the sort of place where it all started for me” and described the event as a “throwback” to his younger days.
Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans presented more than 40 awards to Albion players with physical and learning disabilities. Supporter of The Albion Foundation, Neil Bettridge, said: “The Foundation do a fantastic job and to see all those smiling faces, with the challenge they have, is out of this world. It’s very humbling and a reality check. I also thought Darren (Fletcher) and Jonny (Evans) were fantastic and a credit to the Club.’
Finally, Jonas Olsson, Salomon Rondon, Ben Foster and Claudio Yacob swapped their boots for power chairs to take on the club’s team, which recently reached the European Cup Final. They were easily beaten by the squad whose match helped launched a new full-time Powerchair and Education College Programme in partnership with Queen Alexandra College, Birmingham, thanks to funds from the Premier League and BT Sport.
Ben Foster said: “Albion are leaders in things like this. That’s what West Brom is about. We are a family club, we look after the community. We came through the door today and there’s an eight year old fan (Noah) who had the biggest smile on his face and things like that make it worthwhile.”
For further information go to www.thealbionfoundation.co.uk.