Everton Football Club hosted a group of extra special guests for the recent home win against Brighton; a team of eight young Down Syndrome players who had travelled from Derry, Londonderry, in Northern Ireland to watch the Blues in action and catch a glimpse of their hero Seamus Coleman.
The young boys all play for the famous Oxford Bulls – a football team specifically for children with Down Syndrome which was established with the help of the Foyle Down’s Syndrome Trust in 2015 – and recently won the Irish Football Association Disability Team of the Year 2017.
The excited youngsters journeyed to Liverpool on Saturday 10 March for a two-day visit to the city. An action-packed itinerary saw them take part in a coaching session with Everton in the Community’s Disability team at The People’s Hub before they made their way to Goodison Park for a special behind-the-scenes tour.
They then took to their seats to watch the Toffees defeat Brighton in a game that had it all; two goals, a red card and a missed penalty! After the final whistle, the team were brought through pitchside for some souvenir photographs and got the opportunity to meet some of the Club’s stars.
First up was goalscoring hero Cenk Tosun, who signed autographs and posed for photographs with the Oxford Bulls players before answering some questions from the coaches about his goal. The Turkish international was swiftly followed by Ashley Williams, Oumar Niasse, Jonjoe Kenny, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Wayne Rooney, who also recorded a message on Twitter for the youngsters ahead of their visit wishing them a great time.
The young boys were then surprised by none other than Blues boss Sam Allardyce who called by for some photographs before his post-match press conference and their last VIP visitor of the day was the one they’d all been waiting for – Seamus Coleman!
The Republic of Ireland hero was already aware of the fantastic achievements of the Oxford Bulls team courtesy of his international team-mates and wasted no time in congratulating them on their recent Irish FA award win before answering the groups questions and posing for plenty of photographs.
Fans’ favourite Coleman has held the role of Everton in the Community Disability Ambassador for several seasons and last year took part in a heart-warming coaching session with EitC’s own Down Syndrome team and Club Ambassador Ian Snodin to celebrate International Down Syndrome Awareness Day.
Today, 12 months on, marks World Down Syndrome Day again; a global awareness day that helps to highlight what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with the condition play a vital role in our lives and communities.
To find out more about the Oxford Bulls, visit https://www.facebook.com/OxfordBullsFC/