Saints Foundation host Barnstaple Ability FC for Football Festival

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We were delighted to host Barnstaple Ability FC for a festival of football recently, as part of our Saints Together campaign.

An ability team from North Devon who play in the Devon Ability Counts league, Barnstaple have five teams of varying abilities including a women’s team that was set up earlier this year.

After liaising with Southampton FC Supporter Relations to arrange a match day visit, former Season Ticket holder Melanie Regan was put in contact with our Saints4All Senior Project Officer Rob Pearce, and on 29th April, Melanie travelled with 40 players, coaches and carers to Cantell School, where they were met by our coaches to kick off the football festival.

After the long drive from North Devon, Barnstaple Ability FC were quickly integrated with three teams from our Pan Disability League, as they prepared for a training session delivered by our coaches. The football festival was the perfect opportunity for players from different backgrounds and abilities to bond over a mutual passion for football.

We were also able to give each participant the opportunity to visit St Mary’s Stadium to watch Southampton FC take on Hull City in the Premier League, which for some was an opportunity they had never been afforded before.

“This was a great opportunity for a number of our players some of whom had never previously been to a professional football match let alone a Premier League fixture,” Melanie said. “It was an amazing feeling for them to be part of an amazing club experience.”

Like Barnstaple Ability FC, we are committed to demonstrating a dedication and commitment to diversity and inclusion in sport by showcasing ability rather than disability, and it was a pleasure to work with another Club that are making positive changes to lives of those they work with.

Talking about how the experience had impacted on her participants, Melanie said, “One player, who was mute when I first met him but now speaks very little, said “this is the best day of my life”, A true testament to the day and recognition to your staff that what they do makes a difference and changes lives for the better.”

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