Hilling­don do bor­ough proud on Wem­b­ley turf

Young­sters fin­ish sixth in Lon­don Panathlon con­test

Uxbridge Gazette - - SPORT - by Matt Lewis matt.lewis@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A TEAM of dis­abled chil­dren from Hilling­don did their bor­ough proud at the Panathlon Foot­ball Cup in the shadow of Wem­b­ley Sta­dium’s fa­mous arch re­cently.

The joint team from Pield Heath House & Meadow High Schools fin­ished in sixth place as the best eight bor­oughs from Panathlon’s Lon­don-wide foot­ball pro­gramme – which gives se­verely dis­abled young peo­ple the chance to com­pete at foot­ball – went head-to-head at Wem­b­ley Pow­er­league.

A strong per­for­mance from Hilling­don’s U16s team saw them fin­ish fourth in their tour­na­ment, while a sev­enth-placed fin­ish for the U13s meant the team fin­ished sixth in the com­bined stand­ings.

While he did not get to taste Wem­b­ley glory, Meadow High School’s Char­lie Laws, 13, was in­spired by the whole ex­pe­ri­ence and hopes to tread the hal­lowed Wem­b­ley turf it­self one day.

He said: It’s been really en­joy­able. We’ve had good games and done really well. It’s been a good team ef­fort.

“It’s really lovely play­ing in a foot­ball tour­na­ment at Wem­b­ley. You look up at the sta­dium and think ‘one day that could be us’. I love play­ing sport. I could play an­other 20 matches!”

Panathlon is a na­tional char­ity that pro­vides sport­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for more than 7,500 dis­abled young peo­ple each year.

More than 450 schools took part in 115 ‘mini Par­a­lympic’ com­pe­ti­tions run by the char­ity in 2014/15, with more than 50,000 ac­tive hours of sport pro­vided to dis­abled chil­dren.

Their foot­ball pro­gramme, funded by the Jack Petchey Foun­da­tion and the Mayor of Lon­don, was in­tro­duced to the Lon­don Panathlon ros­ter in 2008, tar­get­ing play­ers not able to ac­cess foot­ball else­where, in­clud­ing young peo­ple with se­vere learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and vis­ual im­pair­ments and Pow­er­chair users, in­volv­ing more than 500 dis­abled foot­ballers each year.

Panathlon also pro­vides foot­ball coach­ing ses­sions for those play­ers not yet com­fort­able or con­fi­dent enough to play in a com­pet­i­tive match, while this sum­mer’s first ever ‘girls only’ foot­ball skills days, run ex­clu­sively by fe­male coaches, proved a re­sound­ing suc­cess in en­cour­ag­ing more dis­abled girls to get in­volved in the beau­ti­ful game.

Plans are un­der way for a Panathlon girls’ foot­ball team, with the char­ity aim­ing to have them com­pete in a Lon­don com­mu­nity league by next sea­son.

PROUD DAY: The team of dis­abled chil­dren from Hilling­don did their bor­ough proud at the Panathlon Foot­ball Cup; (above left) young goal­keeper Char­lie Laws

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