In the spotlight at Stamford Bridge
news Sun 24 Dec 2017
One of the Chelsea Foundation's disability inclusion teams took to the Stamford Bridge pitch for a penalty shoot-out against their counterparts from Southampton, at half-time during our Premier League match last weekend.
Shortly after Marcos Alonso had given our first team the lead against the Saints, our Under-12s pan-disability side and their opponents were given a warm reception by the matchday crowd as they stepped on to the same turf for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play in front of a sold-out Stamford Bridge.
Both sets of players and their parents also received tickets for our 1-0 victory over Southampton.
Chelsea Foundation disability inclusion senior officer Andy Rose said: ‘At the Foundation we are immensely proud of our pan-disability sessions and we are delighted to be able to provide these opportunities to these wonderful young players.
‘These young players want nothing more than to be given the same opportunities as able-bodied players, and to see the smiles on their faces is hugely satisfying.
‘A special mention has to be made for the coaches who work so hard to ensure that these children have an opportunity to play the sport we all love and take for granted, because without them these sessions wouldn’t be possible.
‘Both sets of players, and their families, loved every second of the game and playing on the pitch, and it will be hugely beneficial to their development.’
The Under-12s had prepared for their big game at the Bridge with coaching sessions at our Cobham training ground, and even got to meet manager Antonio Conte and his players.
The team which competed at Stamford Bridge is just one of 11 pan-disability teams run by the Chelsea Foundation, starting at Under-8s and going all the way to adult level, for male and female players of all abilities and disability.
The Foundation's wide-ranging work for players with disability, also including cerebral palsy teams and players with acquired brain injuries, involves not just coaching the players, but also engaging with teachers and coaches outside the club to give them the confidence to work with children who have disability.