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Woody Welcomes

  • Writer's pictureNatalie O'Rourke

Woody Welcomes Newcastle United

Gosh, it feels like an eternity since we last set foot inside the Gtech stadium to watch our beloved Bees, and it looks like we will have to wait a little longer, as Woody and I are off on a much needed holiday with our family this weekend so we won’t be in our usual seats for the game. 

In the time since our last home match, we have had two away games, against Brighton and Manchester United, and an international break. 

Speaking of which we were so proud to see our very own Ivan Toney make his debut for the England squad against Ukraine, and for it to be part of a 2-0 victory – Well Done Ivan.  Here is a little video of Ivan showing off his shirt and cap. 

Speaking of Ivan, he has a connection to our opponents this weekend.  At 19 years of age, Ivan was signed by Newcastle United.  He made four appearances for the Magpies in his first season before moving on to Barnsley.  We hope that Ivan can show his former club just how far he has come since his time with them. 

As we are entering the business end of the Premier League season, we are aware that third place Newcastle United will be going all out to secure the three points, a feat they have achieved in the last two meetings.   

So, let’s get down to the business of what Newcastle United do within their community to support inclusion and accessibility to sport.  Let’s start with the Newcastle United Foundation, which is committed to inspiring the passion and potential of all within the community through football.   

The Foundation has a football development programme which provides free coaching sessions for amputee, blind, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and power chair football teams.   

One of the biggest success stories of the development programme is the story of Thomas Atkinson.  Thomas was born an amputee and struggled with feelings of isolation during his earlier childhood years. However, Thomas found real camaraderie when he joined the Foundation.  He committed a lot of time and energy to refining his goalkeeping game with the support of the coaches and older team members.  And that hard work really paid off when Thomas became the youngest goalkeeper to join the England senior amputee team.  Great job Thomas!! 

Woody and I loved learning about Harry, who plays for the Foundations Down syndrome football team.  Harry is the beating heart of that team, he is passionate, dedicated and clearly gets so much out of playing football.  Harry was lucky enough to go to the Real Sociedad ground and lead his team out on to the pitch.  It is clear that Harry was super proud to captain the team that day and we absolutely love his enthusiasm and ambition for the future. 

Most recently Newcastle player, Bruno Guimaraes, dropped in on a training session for the Down syndrome team.  The visit was in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day on 21st March.  Harry said about meeting Bruno,   "It was awesome! It was great to meet one of my all-time favourite Newcastle players. It was amazing that he made his own time to come and meet us all and play football with us."  

You can check out our blog about the whirlwind of a day Woody and I had on World Down Syndrome Day here ⏬

Recently, Newcastle United hosted an event with Level Playing Field and the Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association to talk about accessibility to sports grounds as well as how fans with a disability can feel safe when attending on match days.  The event was part of the Unite For Access campaign run by Level Playing Field and there were 50 Newcastle fans there who have disabilities.  They were invited to take part in feedback sessions, as well as having the opportunity to listen to guest speakers who talked about their experiences of disability in sport.  It sounds like a brilliant event and Woody and I look forward to learning more about the progress of the campaign. 

Finally, we loved that Newcastle United have been on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to making sure fans with a disability can access the club's website.  In 2019 they were the first Premier League club to instal the software Recite Me.  The software allows users to access text-to speech functionality, dyslexia software, an interactive dictionary and a translation tool with over 100 languages.  The use of Recite Me is just one of the features on the Magpies website that supports accessibility, other functions include high contrast features which uses subtler colours for those with a visual impairment.  There is also the option to enable Dyslexie Font which helps those with dyslexia easier access to the website.   

We hope you all have a great time at the game tomorrow, please sing extra loud to make up for the absence of Woody and to make sure our Bees can come away with the three points.   

We will see you at the Aston Villa game on 22nd April but in the meantime Woody and I hope you have a Happy Easter! 


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Apr 07, 2023

As ever there’s only one word for your posts Natalie and Woody - truly inspirational, even if that’s two words.

Apr 08, 2023
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Thank you. 🥰

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