I have been privileged enough to attend a training session run by Crystal Palace Foundation with the Down’s Syndrome football team, the training sessions every Wednesday at 6-7pm are based at Monks Hill Sports Center in South Croydon. Weekly session for 5 years + gives children and young adults the opportunity to participate in football , meet new friends and become an important part of the Crystal Palace community family.
DS Eagles have a funding partnership with the Down’s Syndrome Association and is delivered by Specialist Disability trained coaches from CPFC Foundation. The aim in these sessions is to develop social skills, confidence and physical ability whilst also learning new skills in a fun environment. Along with weekly training sessions, they are also able to participate in friendly matches.
DS Eagles vs Fulham Badgers
DS Eagles got a taste of their first match experience when they played Fulham Badgers in a friendly match.
Micheal Harrington, Disability Head spoke about the day and has said:
After speaking to Hayden Habgood who went to support DS Eagles in their first game, he had this to say:
“It was really important to both teams but particular DS Eagles as it was their first game as it was their first match for the parents and guardians to see them compete against another team”
I was also able to ask a few questions to a children’s nanny who looks after one of the players who played for DS Eagles during the match.
You witnessed the child you care for called Max score the only goal for DS Eagles, can you please explain that moment.
“I was so excited, calling and shouting his name. I was extremely proud and emotional when he scored and watched with great admiration as he ran the whole pitch to celebrate.”
I also asked both spectators the same question which was, “if you could sum up the match against Fulham Badgers in 5 words what would they be?”
I also able to ask Max’s mum, Sam, some questions about her son and his love for playing football.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for young people with Down’s Syndrome to participate in football?
A: When I was pregnant with Max, we had no idea that he was going to be born with Down’s Syndrome. So when he was, I set about reading everything I could about Down’s Syndrome / learning disabilities. One of the best…and most life-affirming lines I read was ‘different does not mean worse’. So why shouldn’t he play football like most other young boys therefore….he LOVES playing, he loves going to watch The Eagles play, he loves having the affinity to a team. But all this aside, if you’ve got Down’s Syndrome, you need fewer calories than ‘typical’ people. So logically, you either need to eat less or play more sport. Max loves his food so he needs to keep playing sport therefore!
Q: How important do you think the game between DS Eagles and Fulham Badgers was to both teams and parents watching?
A: Very important. Hugely exciting for everyone.
Q: How easy/difficult was it to find sporting activities for your child with a disability in your local area?
A: Personally, I’m like a dog with a bone in terms of finding sporting outlets for Max. But it’s really not made easy for parents to find these opportunities. That’s a real shame.
Q: You saw on a video your child score the only goal from a free kick, can you please explain how you felt seeing that.
A: Like the proudest Mum in the world!