Special school students get to play football at Brighton & Hove Albion's home ground
Youngsters from Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) schools across Sussex, had the chance to walk in the footsteps of their footballing heroes earlier this month, at the American Express Community Stadium.
Around 130 pupils aged seven to 14, from ten SEND schools, were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in an inclusive football tournament, on the Albion’s Premier League stadium pitch.
Schools taking part included: Down View School, Brighton; The Hamilton Lodge School & College, Brighton; The Lindfield School, Eastbourne; The South Downs Community Special School, Eastbourne; Bowden House School, Seaford; Cuckmere House School, Seaford; St Mary’s School, Horam, Heathfield; New Horizons School, St Leonards-on-Sea; LVS Hassocks; Springboard Education, Lancing.
The Gully’s Big Days Out Play on the Pitch event (May 16) was backed by American Express Company, and delivered by Albion in the Community (AITC), the official charity of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. The event is part of AITC’s Gully’s Days Out membership programme launched in 2011, for local young people and adults with a disability.
Warm ups, football activities and matches were facilitated by FA qualified coaches from AITC supported by ten Amex volunteers, who receive disability awareness training and provide a helping hand as referees and match officials. The club mascot Gully welcomed youngsters as they stepped onto the pitch and awarded all participants with medals and goody bags for taking part in the day.
Paul Williams, head of community programmes, AITC, said: “The Gully’s Big Days Out events provide some truly memorable moments. What an unforgettable experience to visit a Premier League stadium and get to play on the pitch. We’re grateful to our friends at American Express not only for funding the event but also for providing the fantastic volunteers that play a big part in making it such a success.
“The Gully’s Days Out programme is part of our on-going commitment to local people who have a disability and their families. Thanks to the generosity of our partners, we’re able to offer members and their family and friends some great days out.”
The Gully’ Days Out membership club provides free admission to some of the most popular leisure attractions across Sussex.
Throughout the year, registered members (individuals and organisations such as SEND schools, colleges and day centres) can request tickets for themselves and their friends and family. Gully’s Big Days Out are supported by American Express and attended by AITC staff and Amex volunteers to assist parents, carers and teachers throughout the day.
Two further Gully’s Big Days Out will take place in August, a football event at the Amex Training Ground and golfing activities at Jolf. For more information, or to sign up as a member, email: [email protected]