The Chelsea Foundation’s inaugural Disability Showcase proved a huge success with more than 850 young people and adults with varying disabilities visiting Cobham and Stamford Bridge for a weekend of football fun.
The two-day event, which was the largest football disability showcase event in the UK, began at their Cobham Training Ground on Saturday before switching to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
In total, more than 850 participants were involved over the weekend, incorporating eight disability football tournaments with 80 teams from 30 different clubs taking part.
Saturday’s activities at our Cobham training base included a festival of football for pan-disability players in the under 8, 12 and 16 categories, a World Club Foot event, walking football tournament and adult Cerebral Palsy cup before the focus switched to adults on Sunday with pan-disability tournaments taking place at the Bridge.
Among the onlookers at Cobham was former Blue and club ambassador Eddie Newton, who was delighted to see Chelsea put on such a vast and inspiring event for disabled footballers.
He said: ‘It’s been a pleasure to be here and credit to the Club, Foundation and all the staff for organising this showcase.
‘It is easy to say these things should happen but in practice it is difficult to organise but we’ve managed to do that and there is a team representing Werder Bremen which shows the incredible reach the club and an event like this has.
‘To see all the children and adults involved and then to learn about the work that has gone in to making it happen has been a pleasure and makes me very proud.
‘All those taking part have had a great day, just watching the games you can see them give everything to win but just being here is an incredible experience and one they can cherish.’
Among those representing Chelsea on Saturday was a familiar face, James Middlehurst, who started playing for the Foundation after meeting Blues defender David Luiz during the club’s annual hospital visit to Chelsea & West Minister.
James said: ‘It has been a fun day and I managed to get an assist which was my favourite part of the day.
‘It’s amazing to come here and get an opportunity like this and I love this place and team now. I met David Luiz at the hospital and since then I joined Chelsea so I can I am a player like him!’
The event highlights our commitment to the disability inclusion programme, which enables young people and adults with any disability to participate in regular, organised football matches and coaching sessions in a safe and enjoyable environment.
Through the delivery of equality and disability awareness training for coaches and teachers, the Chelsea Foundation embeds a culture of inclusive sport and physical activity, ensuring disabled people can access the sport or physical activity of their choice, inspiring them to develop the skills and confidence to realise their potential.