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Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation and North London United

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2021 49ers PRIDE Campaign

A current report published on 19th March 2020 by My Active Future from Activity Alliance indicated that failings across sectors will continue to steer disabled children into an inactive adulthood if we do not act now. The report calls for more commitment from every sector of our society to ensure all children and young people benefit from an active lifestyle. Some of the findings in this report are: Nine in ten parents of disabled children say their child’s level of physical activity is important to them. Yet, less than half of parents with disabled children feel they have enough support to help their child to be active.


To address this gap in provision the Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation (SSMF) runs a number of inclusion programmes. One of these is a community-based grassroot football coaching project run in collaboration with North London United.  We target the specific skills and development needs of young people with Downs Syndrome (DS) aged 5 – 19 years. Our main objective is to give these children a sports programme that not only aids their physical development needs but also provides a social safe space. The project is ran in an encouraging, nurturing environment with coaches specifically qualified to support children with disabilities. Attendance fosters good physical fitness as well as mental health. The children come to the sessions and have fun socialising and learning.


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Our professionally developed Health and Nutrition values are reinforced throughout the sessions. These are structured to start with a group warm up targeting physical areas of development most common to people with DS – low muscle tone, agility, balance, coordination and speed. Among these young individuals, mental abilities vary, but most people with DS have mild to moderate issues with thinking, reasoning, and understanding. They learn and pick up new skills their whole lives, but they may take longer to reach important milestones such as walking, talking, and developing social skills.


SSMF’s aim is to educate disadvantaged young people into rounded, active citizens. We use sports to reach out to them and specifically instill and nurture seven core values that were key to the global success of Sir Stanley Matthews – even beyond football: Education, Ownership & Responsibility, Health & Nutrition, Leadership, Resilience, Innovation & Creativity, and Teamwork. This emphasis transforms the young people we work with into catalysts for social change: last year, we helped 13,782 children at an average cost of £5.22 per child.


Even by going the extra mile, our coaches can only physically engage a finite number of children during each session. Our vision is to increase the number of children we impact across all our projects, thus we are currently building an online learning platform which will increase the number of young people we reach to 35,000 within the first year of being up and running. They will benefit from intensive training in the seven values from wherever they are at any time.


Check out all the confirmed details for Leaders Week London as we prepare for the return of live events this October at Twickenham Stadium. Not to worry though, for those who can’t join us we’ll still be broadcasting the event live to the Leaders Week Direct virtual event platform.