Hillingdon do borough proud on Wembley turf
Youngsters finish sixth in London Panathlon contest
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