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Disability footy festival a winner for Burnley youngsters

The youngsters at the Etihad Campus
The youngsters at the Etihad Campus
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Youngsters from Burnley had the chance to kick about at the home of the English champions as part of a disability football festival.

The children joined 180 young people from 23 Premier League and English Football League clubs at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus to take part in a pan-disability event.

A great day

A great day

Participants from Burnley FC took part in a day of football activity – starting with a skills session in the morning which saw former Premier League footballers Joleon Lescott and John Hartson join them to take part in passing, shooting and turning challenges.

This was followed by a tournament in the afternoon which saw the teams, all dressed in the kit of the club they were representing, split into five groups. A competitive afternoon of matches, saw Aston Villa, Leicester City, Stoke City, Sunderland and Watford win their respective groups and walk away with trophies.

The event at the Etihad Campus was the culmination of a great second season for the Premier League and BT Disability initiative which has now seen more than 23,000 participants take part in nearly 15,000 club-run sessions since September 2016.

Lewis Rimmer, disability development officer at Burnley FC, said: “Before the PL BT disability funding, we were touching base with about 100 people on a weekly basis but since the funding has come in, it’s allowed us to sky-rocket the programme in the local area and we’re looking at about 800 people on a weekly basis with disabilities that are accessing sport in many different ways.

"Without the money, it just wouldn’t be what it is today so it’s been essential to what we’ve done and the key outcomes we’ve achieved.”

The afternoon also featured visually-impaired football demonstrations, and a unified football match between disabled and able-bodied participants representing Manchester City and Manchester United.

Sensory room equipment was set up in one of the areas to display the type of specialist equipment that is available to clubs through the Premier League and BT Disability programme funding – which some clubs have already installed at their grounds to improve inclusivity.