First-team stars Yerry Mina and Beni Baningime were the guests of honour at the annual Everton in the Community Disability Awards, held at the Isla Gladstone Conservatory on Tuesday evening.
Colombia international Mina and Academy graduate Baningime were joined by Club Ambassadors Graham Stuart and Ian Snodin to help celebrate another successful year for all nine of the charity’s disability teams that play across Merseyside.
Sponsored by Frank Rogers Building Contractors, the ceremony was opened by Everton in the Community Chief Executive Richard Kenyon, before the first-team duo presented awards for Players’ Player of the Year and Manager’s Player of the Year to each team.
Mina and Baningime also handed over the David Thomas Award to Mickey Chambers, David Tweed and Martin Heald for their role in helping the Blues’ amputee team secure back-to-back league titles and an AMP Cup success in Poland. The trio also represented England at the European Championship finals in Turkey, where they played in front of a crowd of 41,000 supporters in Istanbul.
Speaking after the Awards, a beaming Mina said: “It has been very good to come here today and spend time with everyone. We have all had a great evening celebrating and there were lots of smiles from all the players and their families. It has been an honour to be invited.”
Club Ambassadors Snodin and Stuart later took to the stage to present medals to every individual player in recognition of their fantastic achievements over the last 12 months.
Hosted by Graeme White, the ceremony saw players from Dune’s Under-13s, Archbishop Beck Under-13s, Ashley Under-16s, Archbishop Beck and Dune’s Under-16s, Down Syndrome team, Amputee team, Women’s Pan Disability, Pan Disability C and Pan Disability D teams called on stage to be presented with their medal and pose for photographs.
Disability Manager Steve Johnson delivered the closing remarks to congratulate all players and thank their friends and family for their continued support.
“Every year this event is a great success, a chance to get all of the participants together with their families and is really special for everyone involved,” said Johnson.
“A massive thank you to Yerry and Beni for taking the time to come along to help us because they made everyone’s night just by being here and we are very grateful for their support.”
The disability programme, which is delivered by the Club’s official charity and funded by the Premier League and BT Sport, is one of the largest in the world and provides football and physical activity opportunities for thousands of disabled children and adults each year.
The disability programme is all-inclusive and there are teams available to those with any disability whether that be learning, physical, reduced stature, autism, cerebral palsy or partially sighted.
Speaking about the awards, Dean Rogers of Frank Rogers Building Contractors, added: “The awards were a truly fantastic event that celebrated the achievements of a very special group of people.
“I’m proud that Frank Rogers were given the opportunity to sponsor the occasion, and would like to once again congratulate everyone that took part.”
For more information about Everton in the Community's disability programme, visit evertonfc.com/community.