Blackburn Rovers Community Trust have taken the opportunity to mark Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week and today’s World Down Syndrome Day by launching a brand new coaching opportunity for children living with the condition.
The first session of its kind took place on Monday evening at the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre to coincide with the start of the worldwide week of awareness, with the intention of making football more inclusive for children regardless of any challenges that Down’s Syndrome might present to them.
The new offer is an expansion of the consistently popular weekly coaching for children with a wide spectrum of disabilities, which has been running throughout the season and is regularly attended by around 20 children aged eight to 16 (though younger children are also welcome with their parents or guardians’ consent if they believe that they will be safe in an environment alongside older children).
Matt Pilkington, disability sports officer with the club’s official charity, is excited by the opportunities that the new weekly concept – hosted every Monday from 5pm to 6pm – will provide to the wider community, explaining:
“The thinking behind our ever-expanding disability football coaching is to offer opportunities in areas where we’ve identified a local need, and a niche offering for children with Down’s Syndrome was definitely one of those areas.
“We’ve been delighted to welcome one child with Down’s Syndrome throughout the entirety of this ongoing project, but we’re really pleased that we can now offer an area where all the children with the condition can enjoy the game together and make new friends in an environment that’s appropriate to their needs and ability.
“The response to this new initiative has been phenomenal and we’re receiving a very steady run of requests from families who would like their children to be part of this new offer, so we look forward to seeing how it grows.
“The recent fundraising at the Preston North End game through the ‘Bring A Pound To The Ground’ concept and a generous donation from the football club means that we’re looking to offer the chance for representative teams suiting children with a range of disabilities with the chance to play for Blackburn Rovers at tournaments or at one-off fixtures.
“If the demand is there, we look forward to potentially being able to field a Blackburn Rovers Down’s Syndrome side if the right opportunities are available, so the more families that are interested in getting involved, the better chance we have of being able to let children live that dream.”
To express your interest in securing a place for your child at forthcoming sessions – which are normally priced at just £3 per week – please contact Matt Pilkington via 01254 508256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.