The end of May would usually see hundreds of young people and adults with varying disabilities come together at Stamford Bridge and our Cobham training ground for the Chelsea Foundation’s Disability Showcase.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic however, the annual two-day event had had to be cancelled but the Chelsea Foundation adapted to Government guidelines and moved the concept online with a first-ever virtual Disability Showcase.
The event allowed clubs to join virtually to celebrate disability football with the Foundation delivering Home Activity Packs to participants and clubs with various challenges to take part in across the weekend.
Disability officer Ellie Crabb said: ‘The Disability Showcase is of course not what we had hoped or expected a few months ago when we were in the planning stages.
‘However, we were delighted to be able to offer a small virtual programme that children and adults could pick up and practise their football skills, whether that be in their home, garden or a public park.
‘It is important to us that disabled footballers and people first and foremost with disabilities remain healthy and active during this time and if they can improve their football skills, that’s a bonus!
We look forward to hopefully restaging the Disability Showcase next season and hoped the Virtual Disability Showcase supported clubs and players in need of activity at this time.’
Launched in May 2018, the Chelsea Foundation Disability Showcase is the largest event of its kind.
The annual event highlights our commitment to the disability inclusion programme, which enables young people and adults with any disability in regular, organised football matches and coaching sessions in a safe and enjoyable environment.
Last year, more than 500 disabled footballers attended day one of the event at Cobham with former Blue and club ambassador Carlo Cudicini making an appearance to see the children aged under eight to 16 in action.
A day later and a further 300 participants descended on Stamford Bridge for day two as we hosted a number of Premier League sides including AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Norwich city.
Among those to take part in this year’s Virtual Disability Showcase was Christian, who plays for one of our adult pan-disability teams. He said: ‘It meant a lot to me, it kept me busy and was good fun. I enjoyed the volleys as they were the most challenging.'
Christian’s mother, Maria added: ‘This has helped Christian feel connected to football. ‘It has been great for keeping him motivated which is absolutely crucial to me.’