An initiative set up between Reading FC Community Trust and The Community Furniture Project in Newbury (CFP Newbury) has provided a platform for disabled people to gain valuable life skills – through football activity and work experience.
CFP Newbury is a project that offers work placements to people with disabilities allowing them to gain voluntary, part time or full time employment with their furniture shop, in turn helping them to build on their confidence and reach their full potential.
Reading FC Community Trust were approached by CFP Newbury to see if they could offer sports sessions that would help build morale within the shop and promote beneficial teamwork and communication skills.
Through EFL Trust’s Every Player Counts project funded by Wembley National Stadium Trust, this was made possible and Reading FC Community Trust’s overall goal of establishing a disability team and entering it into the local league was achieved, whilst also recruiting players from Reading’s SEN school and college networks.
One of the senior workers at the shop, Joe, who had completed an FA Level 1 coaching award, was interested in managing the team.
After getting in touch with Reading FC Community Trust he was provided with a mentor to help develop his management skills, which has in turn helped him guide the disability football team in the Berkshire Oxforshire Buckinghamshire Inclusive (BOBI) League.
The BOBI league provides regular footballing opportunities for children and adults across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire who have physical and learning difficulties.
The CFP Newbury team are now competing in seven-a-side BOBI League festivals that occur once a month, playing in five fixtures during each festival.
Joe commented: “The group has come a long way in a short time with the help of Reading FC Community Trust, the coaching and mentoring we have received has been excellent and the group has responded really well.
"The Reading FC Community Trust staff have the knowledge of disability football and the local area and have been able to get us involved with the FA’s Disability League. We look forward to working with them in the future.”
The partnership between Reading FC Community Trust and CFP Newbury continues to grow moving forwards, with the offering of coaching courses, match tickets, funding support and volunteering/employment opportunities.
Daniel Rook, Disability Manager from Reading FC Community Trust said: “The CFP project for us has been great in terms of getting people with disabilities working and active in football. To see how the group have come on is fantastic and having a team and project like this will only benefit disability football in Berkshire.
Above is Ashley taking part in a Community Trust run football session and below hard at work at the furniture project!
To find out more about Reading FC Community Trust visit: http://community.readingfc.co.uk/
To find out more about Every Player Counts visit: http://www.efltrust.com/projects/every-player-counts/