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Woody Welcomes

  • Writer's pictureNatalie O'Rourke

Woody Welcomes....Aston Villa

It's a weekend of mixed emotions for Woody as he welcomes his absolute hero to the Gtech for the first time. Ollie Watkins is Woody's number one, they share a special bond which does not need words. Woody is so excited to see Ollie, who has no ego and a huge heart but he would of course much prefer to see him wearing a Brentford shirt. I am sure Ollie's skills are going to be better than the penalty shoot out he shared with Woody at Villa Park after our defeat in October.

I really hope Woody can keep his emotions in check whatever the result and that Ollie is not too tired with a new born baby in his life.

Ollie is based at a Club that has a strong ethos that football and sport should be enjoyed by everyone - we tend to agree! - and a very strong disability football programme. The main Aston Villa Foundation does great work across its community and beyond and impacts many lives. Although it's been around for over 30 years, it became the club's official registered charity ten years ago. Today the Foundation employs over 80 staff across its seven departments, and over 40 active projects working with thousands of people between the age of 2 and 100 on a weekly basis.

One very cool thing about the Foundation is they have the great writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah as an Ambassador! Benjamin, born in Handsworth and a huge Villa fan, is widely regarded as one of Britain's modern writers. Here he is encouraging supporters to attend their recent community day ( more on that below). We think Benjamin would encourage any youngster to get excited about poetry and if he wants to write one about Woody he would be very....welcome.😉

Ability counts is the name of Aston Villa's disability football programme, providing inclusive, accessible football for disabled people from the age of six right through to adulthood - it looks great!

here are opportunities for participation in the Birmingham Ability Counts League and Sandwell Ability Counts league, providing competition football for boys and girls in age groups 8-12, 12-16, and 16+. The emphasis is on having fun, making new friends and building confidence and of course highlighting the importance of regular physical activity.

Powerchair football teams are always something that really impresses us. The sport not only helps develop young people in the technical aspects of a really fun and fast paced game - but also really helps on a social level. Playing a part of a team is such a useful experience for anyone and helps people become more confident, outgoing and helps develop their belief in their own abilities. The set up for the Villa Rockets is as impressive as anything we've seen. The Rockets are run by volunteers and are self-funded, but the club supports them with additional funding, training and kit. Their website is great with a full list of fixtures and match reports just like the Premier League itself - it must be such fun to be part of!

It's been our feeling - and what prompted this blog - that Premier League teams ought to be more proud of what they put on for their communities in terms of inclusion and disabled sports - and we know personally how hard the team at Brentford work on this. So this was a lovely thing to see just two weeks ago. Villa honouring their Disability Manager Nigel Macrow, who has been working with the Aston Villa Foundation for nearly 25 years with a Premier League "One Of Our Own" Award.

We're so looking forward to the match, for Woody seeing Ollie again, and for us to meet the Villa supporter Owen. Please look out for him and make sure they feel special as Woody Welcomes...Aston Villa!

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