From The Bench – CPFC Foundation

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.

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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:


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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?”

Here is a summary of the words used to describe the match

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!



Prince Harry and the Invictus Games

The Invictus Games is an international multi-sport event that was created by Prince Harry, where wounded, injured and sick armed service personnel have the opportunity to take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, swimming, powerlifting and wheelchair tennis as a few examples.

Prince Harry said he hopes the Invictus Games will inspire people affected my mental illness to seek help.

This is the second games after the first in London in 2014. The Invictus Games is during the space of 4 days between May 8th to 12th in Florida involving athletes from 14 countries. You can check out what’s happening and the results but clicking here.

Also check out their official Twitter account.

invictus games twitter

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Thousands attended the opening ceremony which included speeches from the US First Lady Michelle Obama, Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and also former US President George W Bush.

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Some British Competitors

Caroline Buckle

Caroline Buckle joined the Army in 1997 and served tours across the world as part as the Royal Logistic Corps. She has anxiety, depression and posy-traumatic stress disorder as well as having a physical injury to her lower left leg and foot.

Caroline Buckle participates in the events swimming, cycling, 100m sprint, shot put, discus and archery.

Caroline said:

“It has been immensely important to me to get involved in sport. I became a bit of hermit when I left the army and I needed to build a bit of a social circle. By getting involved with the Sports Recovery Programme I’ve learned that my life didn’t come to an end because I got an injury and because of my PTSD. I’ve learned new ways of doing sport, lost tons of weight through it.”

Michael Hutchinson

Michael Hutchinson was medically discharged from service in 2014 after 15 years with the Royal Artillery as a bombardier. He has lumbar spine disease, a degenerative spine condition which causes chronic pain and limited mobility. Along with this he also has arthritis in the lower lumbar which adds to his pain and limited mobility.

Michael has said in his own words:

“Sport was important to me when I was growing up and, because of my injury, I thought it had been taken from me for good.”

“When I first got sent home on sick leave I spent most of my time locked in my bedroom in my parents’ house. That was when the depression started and it wasn’t very good.”

“Getting back into sport has given me back something I thought I had lost and has helped with my confidence and my anger issues. It calms me down and helps with my depression and the issues that otherwise might be bottled up or taken out in the wrong way.”

You can see more British competitors by click here.

Key Messages

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Key messages from the article on the 4 British competitors in the games says, “Give it a try“, “start small“, “sport matters to the over 55s as well” and lastly “It’s OK to ask for help when it comes to mental health issues“.

Digital vs Print Media

Hannah Cockroft MBE is a T34 Paralympic wheelchair racer.

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Hannah Cockroft MBE aims to achieve triple Paralympic gold in Rio but still is aiming to gain more respect. This story was published throughout the media as examples belong from The Times and The Daily Telegraph.


Both on the same day, same story but differently written. These articles about Hannah Cockroft MBE aims to inform and educate not only about Rio but also about disabilities.

However, with updates in technology Hannah Cockroft MBE is able to put out messages to the public through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes it is easy for people to use social media to get a message across to the public so they can word it exactly the way they intend the message to come across.

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Click here to visit Hannah Cockroft’s facebook

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Click here to visit Hannah Cockroft’s twitter

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Along with social media Hannah Cockroft MBE also has a website which enables supporters to go and see for themselves about Hannah, news, sponsors and charities information.

As a reader myself and someone who is part of the social media generation if a news story breaks I look on Twitter and if I can not find anything on that particular platform I will look on Google.

Personally I prefer digital media because it is offer quicker, straight to the point in their writing style and easy access.

I’d like to wish Hannah the best of luck for the Rio 2016 Paralympics!


Support CPFC Foundation


The Crystal Palace Football Club Foundation provides a disability program aiming to support and implement that every disabled person should get the opportunity to benefit from the physical and social aspect of sport.

CPFC Foundation has many different partnerships with Local Authorities, Impairment Charities and Specialist Schools to ensure they deliver and develop impairment specific and non-specific programs. The programs are aimed at needs and development issues of people of all ages in the local community.

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CPFC Foundation have a strong commitment to high quality physical education, school and Community Sport Programme and experienced specialist coaches means they are able to provide the best opportunity for disabled people to participate in and enjoy sport in a fun and safe environment.

An increase has been seen in the past year in the awareness for people with disabilities to engage in sport. You may have seen their Mental Health Team feature on BBC Match of the Day and also the Powerchair team feature.


CPFC Foundation is self-funded and reach out to their local fan base and faithful supporters to drive CPFC Foundation’s future objectives to enable them to become a even more successful thriving football Foundation.

In October 2014 the Palace Foundation received a Mark of  Excellence for their contributions to the local community. Along with a win at the national Football Business Awards as the Best Community Scheme in 2015.

Now in 2016 they aim to continue and become better by developing new strands of work that contributes to all of the diverse communities. To do this, CPFC Foundation needs your help!

Your donations will ensure the sustainability of existing project activity, including:

  • Powerchair football
  • Learning disability football
  • Health and education workshops for young people and their parents
  • Healthy lifestyle sessions for the 30 years +
  • Stay active clubs for the elderly
  • Training and education opportunities for disadvantaged young people
  • Improving the life chances of vulnerable young people through sport

An area they would like to progress in is football based activities for young people with Autism. Along with this they also aim to include elderly care as an extension of their already existing ‘Extra Time‘ club and also ‘get fit, stay fit’ for younger people and adults to support and guide them in what a healthy lifestyle consists of and how to maintain it.

On another note:

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Like every other Crystal Palace fan I cannot wait for The Emirates FA Cup Final on 21st May 2016! I’ll struggle to get tickets but wishing everyone attending a safe journey to Wembley and fantastic day at the iconic stadium.




Para-swimming: 14 year old Ellie Robinson qualifies for Rio

Brilliant post by tacklingstigma about 14 year old Ellie Robinson qualifying for Rio


A 14 year old girl from Northampton has beaten her personal best to qualify for Rio. Her old S6 50m butterfly record has been replaced with a 36.70 in the heats and 36.34 to follow in the final.

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The London Paralympic Games 2012

When you think about disabilities, it’s a difficult topic to discuss. Many people find it uncomfortable to talk about disabilities as they don’t want to cause offence or it can make people uncomfortable, but most importantly, it’s a level of not understanding disabilities that makes it most difficult.

There is over 9.4 million disabled people in England, which makes up 18% of the population.  The most disappointing and upsetting statistics I found was that 38% of people believe that disabled people are a burden on society and 180 disability hate crimes are committed every day in this country.

Channel 4’s London 2012 Paralympics Marketing/PR Campaign

By focusing on Channel 4’s marketing campaign for the London Paralympics in 2012, through this campaign, they set out to change these perceptions of people with disabilities.

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In 2010 Channel 4 won the rights to the London 2012 Paralympics Games. When asked only 14% of the population said they were looking forward to the Games and only a fraction of the public could name a Paralympian.


The marketing campaign was one of the biggest in the Channel’s history. The event was made to be one of the largest broadcast event of 2012 and even now is still being continued for Rio 2016 Paralympics Games.
Channel 4 engaged UK media early into the campaign in order to move the coverage for Paralympic sport from the margins to the mainstreams. Channel 4 also introduced shows like Thanks for the Warm Up and Meet the Superhumans.


As this was the biggest event in the Channel 4’s history they had to ensure that they got it right.  The results of their marketing campaign definitely shows that this is what they achieved.

On the eve of the Games awareness was at a high of 77% from 16%, Channel 4 saw coverage reach 11.6 million views as viewers tuned in to watch the opening ceremony. Everyday broke new viewing records for live Paralympic sports coverage. 6.3 million viewers watched Jonathan Peacock win T44 100m Gold which was the largest rating for a single competition event.

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Social media was also at a high as their Twitter account (@C4Paralympics ) saw their follow count rocket from 3K in January 2012 to 120K during the Games.

However, most importantly 65% of viewers felt the TV coverage of the Games had a favourable impact on their perceptions towards people with disabilities. 56% felt that the Channel 4 coverage of the Games made the public feel more comfortable talking about disabilities.


Channel 4 attracted a record breaking audience and also had a positive reaction in their bid to broadcast the Rio Paralympic 2016 Games which is more evidence of successfully delivering their PR objectives.

More Thoughts

In my opinion, Channel 4’s most important objective was to change the public’s attitude towards disability and this was definitely achieved. Even now Channel 4 continue to increase awareness by representing people with disabilities through means such as their ‘year of disability’ campaign.

Channel 4 have set a new standard of representing disabled people on and off screen and I believe they will continue to do so for many years to come. 91% of people thought that disabled athletes were as talented as able-bodied athletes, this highlights a shift of focus from  the athletes disability to concentrating on the sporting excellence of the Games.

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For me, the important thing that I have found for my research on the London Paralympics 2012 Games, was that after watching the Paralympics Games, some people with disabilities said that it has made them more motivated to participate in sport.