Woody Welcomes Brighton & Hove Albion
It has been such a long time since we have been at Brentford for a Premier League match! The last game against Arsenal was four weeks ago and so much has happened since. Woody celebrated his tenth birthday, lots of our Brentford players have been busy playing for their countries during the international break and the Bees have travelled North and South for games against Newcastle and Bournemouth. Woody travelled to St James' Park for the Newcastle game and as you can see he had an amazing weekend and really enjoyed his time in The Toon.
However, it is back to business on Friday night as Brighton & Hove Albion visit the Gtech Community Stadium. It will be a late night for Woody as the match kicks off at 8pm but there is always something exciting about an evening game, especially as the Autumn nights draw in. We have everything crossed that we can take the three points from the Seagulls and avoid the last-minute drama from last year, when Brighton snuck in an injury time goal and walked away with the win.
Albion in the Community
Brighton has a long-established relationship with those in their community who have disabilities. Their charity ‘Albion in the Community’ (AITC) was founded 30 years ago and helps 10,000sof people get active and use sport to build relationships and confidence. The charity has an extensive programme covering everything from after school clubs and summer schools to their national disability teams – Amputee FC, Blind FC, Cerebral Palsy FC and Powerchair FC.
The Down Syndrome Squad
One of the things we love about ‘Albion in the Community’ is that they have a specific football coaching session for people with Down syndrome. The Down syndrome squad is very much a part of the Brighton family and there are weekly sessions for anyone over the age of four.
We particularly loved reading about the benefit this has had for Izzy Marr. Izzy is a huge Brighton fan and gets so much out of the training sessions on a Sunday as well as the wellbeing catch ups each Wednesday. Izzy has made lots of friends and even walked out with the Women’s team as their mascot for their first ever game at the Amex stadium.
The connection with AITC has become a family affair as Izzy’s sister, Annie, could see the huge positive impact the charity had on her. Annie was so inspired that she signed up to run the Brighton Half Marathon in February this year, raising over £600 for ‘Albion in the Community’.
Premier League Kicks
Another great initiative is the ‘Premier League Kicks’ programme. This provides free weekly football coaching sessions for children. It is brilliant to see how the children have been engaged and that they feel included and accepted – Woody and I certainly understand the power of feeling part of team and the impact it can have on feeling accepted for who you are. It was also really heart-warming to hear the children say that ‘Albion in the Community’ has been a real turning point in their lives.
COVID-19 Community Support
Even though we have come through the COVID-19 pandemic Woody and I still remember how tough it was when we had to stay at home. Woody really struggled without his activities and so we were so pleased to hear about the support ‘Albion in the Community’ gave to its members during the Lockdowns. The charity organised wellbeing sessions, fitness classes and general catch ups, all online during the lockdown periods. We particularly loved reading about Daniel Passey Stone who was really sad when his regular football sessions couldn’t continue but got such a boost from taking part in the online calls from AITC.
Brighton & Hove Albion Womens Team
Finally, we wanted to mention the fantastic Women’s Football programme at Brighton. Following the amazing success of the Lionesses during the Euros in the summer, Brighton & Hove Albion have seen a huge surge in fans buying season tickets for the Women’s game, as well as a 100% increase in girls signing up for community football sessions. Brighton hosted three of the games in the Euros including two England games and their passion and commitment to the Women’s game is clear for all to see. With funding from the PFA ‘Albion in the Community’ have been able to replicate the pathway that is in place for boys, for the girls. They have soccer schools which are open to any ability, and they also have a talent pathway. The talent pathway delivers a higher level of coaching to really develop the girl's skills.
Woody and I will be shining a light on the Brentford Women’s Football team during the World Cup break so watch this space...