Preston North End Community and Education Trust has launched the Every Player Counts programme with the aim of increasing participation in football for disabled people.
Every Player Counts is an EFL Trust programme which aims to provide those living with disabilities the opportunity to participate in sporting activities.
It will see the introduction of football sessions for both adults and children with a wide range of disabilities and encourages males and females of all footballing abilities to come along.
As part of programme, a link has been developed with local football community project the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre, ensuring that players will have a potential route into more competitive football should they wish to pursue it.
The Trust is providing two sessions a week; one for adults and one for children. The adults’ sessions, for those aged 16 and over, take place on Friday nights between 7pm and 8pm at the Preston North End Community Training Centre (PR2 3TX).
The Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre also operates a session in the hour before, from 6pm until 7pm, which disabled players are also welcome to attend.
The children’s sessions run on Saturday mornings from 10am to 11am for players aged 4 to 16-years-old, taking place in the indoor training hall at UCLAN Sports Arena (PR2 1SG), running alongside the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre young disability session.
Speaking at the first of the sessions, Community Inclusion Coach Alistair White said: “The Every Player Counts programme is all about getting disability players, whether with visual impairment, a physical impairment, or any learning difficulty, involved in football and giving them opportunity, whether it’s their first time playing or they play competitively.
“It’s a great way to get into football and to socialise and make new friends as well. With the Sir Tom Finney partnership, we can also offer a link into competitive football.”
Chairman of the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre, Peter Mason, believes that the link-up with PNE is a logical step that will grow the project.
He said: “As a club, we’re a very well-established charity. For us to actually be working in partnership with the town’s professional club is a big lift for us.
“What I can’t stress too much is that this gives them the opportunity to get out socially with mates and make friends, otherwise they’d just be sat at home.
“Regardless of ability, or indeed disability, everyone gets the opportunity to play and for Preston North End to be involved with us now just takes us up to the next level.”
Lead Disability Coach at the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre, Faisal Member, believes that the partnership with PNE will have a positive impact for players involved at the club.
He said: “It’s going to be massive. Most of our players are massive PNE fans, so having that association with the club that they love, with the heroes that they go and see on a Saturday, will be massive for them. They’ll feel part of the professional PNE club.
“It’ll be fantastic that they’ve got it on Friday night and they will take that association with them to a game on a Saturday and they will probably talk about it with their fellow supporters and friends in the stands on Saturday as well.”
If you would like to find out more about Every Player Counts sessions or the link between PNECET and the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre, you can contact Alistair White by calling 01772 693309 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.