The one-year anniversary of the Every Player Counts project took place at Media City UK today.
- Community Trust deliver disability sports sessions in schools, colleges and at Wigan Youth Zone.
- Every Player Counts aims to get more people with disabilities involved in football and sport.
- Scheme is funded by the Wembley National Stadium Trust and administered by EFL Trust.
Over the past 12 months, Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Disability Football Officer Joe Pym has worked with over 400 people with disabilities as part of the Every Player Counts project, helping individuals young and old across Wigan to access football and sport.
The scheme has been a huge success since its launch in November 2016, and Joe has played a pivotal role in changing the lives of hundreds of people. He delivers sessions in schools, colleges and at Wigan Youth Zone, and has been instrumental in the development of the club’s junior and adult disability teams who compete in the Greater Manchester Ability Counts League.
With the simple aim of getting more people with disabilities involved in football and sport, the Every Player Counts project, which is funded by the Wembley National Stadium Trust and administered by the EFL Trust, has seen 3,600 participants take part in activities nationwide.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the project, two disability football teams from Wigan Athletic attended a football festival at Media City UK this afternoon.
Discussing the project, Joe said: “We work with children, young people and adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and autism and help them to access football and sport, whether that be watching, taking part or coaching. The great thing about the scheme is that it breaks down barriers for a lot of people and gets them involved.
“Our sessions are intimate and we take a quality over quantity approach because we want our coaching to be personal to each individual so they get as much as possible out of it. We take small steps to get the very best out of every person we work with so they can realise their potential.”
In total, the Trust have delivered nearly 800 hours of coaching since the project’s launch, while also transitioning 10% of participants into competitive sport, a feat Joe says he’s most proud of.
“Introducing a new Under 16s team has been a definite highlight for me. We didn’t have a team such as this one last year but had a number of players who would qualify for this category training with us every week. They were desperate to play competitive football and to represent the club, so to be able to create this team and see them develop has been wonderful.
“I worked with eight players separately before we created this team, and to see them come together, form a team and socialise as friends has been really nice to see. I haven’t had a better feeling while working at the Trust than seeing them play their first game and scoring their first goal.”
One participant who has particularly excelled under Joe’s guidance has been Andrew Johnson, who now volunteers for the Trust in schools.
Joe, who started out with the Trust seven years ago as a volunteer and an apprentice, added: “Andrew was 16 when I first met him and he’d just finished school. He didn’t really know what to do with himself because he didn’t get the best exam results and he told me that academic life wasn’t for him.
“Through the Every Player Counts project though he’s gone on to start volunteering with our younger disabled teams and from that he’s got his FA Level 1 certificate as well as safeguarding and first aid qualifications.
“He later showed some interest in wanting to help out in schools and work with the head coaches, and by doing that he really threw himself into the deep end because it was something completely new for him. I’ve really seen him grow as a person and his confidence and self-esteem have increased massively. He’s enjoying himself so much and is just having a great time.”
For more information about the Every Player Counts project, please contact Joe Pym on 01942 318090 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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