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Foundation's inclusion league setting a precedent

25 November 2018

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THE Albion Foundation's inclusion league for disabled footballers has been going from strength to strength since it first started three years ago.

It has developed so much that it now sees teams travel from wide and far to take place at Portway Lifestyle Centre in the monthly round of fixtures.

Titled 'The Sandwell Inclusion League', the division sees over 300 footballers of all ages and abilities once a month, with the morning dedicated to juniors, and adults playing in the afternoon.

Nigel Goldstraw, who looks after three teams from Leek Town that compete in the division each month, believes the charity's inclusion league is setting the benchmark.

"It's a long way away for us but the journey is worth it," he said.

"This work is essential. I wish you could take this blueprint and dot it all around the country, because this is working."

"There is a good atmosphere. The players make it because they are very friendly. It's a big family here and it's very friendly.

There are multiple leagues played to cater for different abilities, making the games competitive and enjoyable.

West Bromwich Albion Amputees have joined the league this year and captain Tom Whitehouse says that it is helping the team to gain valuable playing time together.

"It's a good place for us to come and play and enjoy ourselves," he said.

"It's good for fitness, good for experience and playing against people with two legs puts us under more of a strain but it's more opportunity for us to play as a team and get some practice in.

"It's lovely. Until you come here you can't really appreciate what is out there for people and it's good to see people getting the opportunity to play a sport that they enjoy and love."

Ajay Gill, a Disability Development Officer at the Foundation says that the league means a lot to many of its participants.

"The atmosphere is buzzing. It's good to be around," he said.

"It means an awful lot to some of these players. They love watching football as well as playing football so to be a part of a team and to have that social element is massive for them.

"We've seen a lot of players grow and develop in terms of confidence and their self esteem and they also develop as players."

For more information on the Sandwell Inclusion League, please contact paul.glover@albionfoundation.co.uk.


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