Seamus Coleman has spoken of the inspiration from meeting Everton in the Community participants after joining Yerry Mina to welcome players from the charity’s Down syndrome team to USM Finch Farm to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.
Accompanied by Club Ambassador Ian Snodin, the 14-strong group of players arrived at the Club’s state-of-the-art training facility with big smiles on their faces ahead of an extra-special training session.
After a brief warm-up on the indoor pitch, the participants were joined by some familiar faces when Republic of Ireland captain Coleman and Colombia international Mina joined them. The Everton first-team duo have spent lots of time with participants from Everton in the Community’s disability teams in the past and were greeted and welcomed as old friends.
Watched by parents and carers from the mezzanine overlooking the pitch, the group broke up into a game of five-a-side with Coleman, Mina and Snods all getting involved.
There was lots of passion and trickery from all involved and some enthusiastic goal celebrations.
The visit wrapped up with Everton centre-half Mina teaching some of his trademark dance moves to the participants as well as lots of group photographs with many different poses.
Republic of Ireland skipper Coleman has held the role of Everton in the Community Disability Ambassador for four years and, reflecting on the session, said: “I’ve come in today to see the kids with Yerry to have a little training session, a bit of a kick-about and just some fun. I know quite a lot of them from doing various things with them in the past and I really enjoyed it; it always puts a smile on my face and, in turn, I think it puts a smile on their faces as well so it’s great.
“These lads are an example. You see kids like this who maybe aren’t as fortunate, but you see them smiling every day and it’s a lesson to us all – through good and bad to try to be as positive as you can be.”
Everton in the Community Disability Development Coach Mark Dolan added: “We’ve done a couple of events here and the lads know some of the players – especially Yerry and Seamus – because they’ve done activities with them in the past, so it was like they’re best mates as they turned up and it was like they’ve met up again on a weekly basis.
“It means a lot to them – with them coming down and being as good as they are is a major plus to us as coaches as well because with their input and what they can bring to it – it’s the smiles on the faces that the lads bring as you can see and the enthusiasm they’ve got.”
Club Ambassador Ian Snodin said: “Seamus is fantastic with these players – he’s just that kind of person; he loves Everton Football Club and he loves getting involved with the community and World Down Syndrome day is one of the highlights of his year. And Yerry has been brilliant with them, too. Just to watch them play football, it’s the enthusiasm, the love for the game and the love for Everton Football Club is so passionate – it’s just great to be here.
“You just come to meet them and they inspire you. They inspire you as a person and for all the things you’ve done throughout your life and throughout your career – to see these kids smiling and having fun and being part of Everton in the Community is fantastic.”
World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated every year on 21 March and not only does this day see the global community highlight Down syndrome, the day allows focus on a particular issue, with this year’s theme being ‘leave no one behind’. All people with Down syndrome must have opportunities to live fulfilling lives, included on a full and equal basis with others, in all aspects of society.
Talking about this year’s theme, Coleman added: “Club, community and everyday life – I think we’ve all got to help each other along the way someway and be there for each other. You never know anyone’s story and it’s very easy to judge – we’re all in it together and, ‘Leave no one behind’; I think that should be a motto for everyday life as well.”
Everton in the Community’s disability programme 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 programme is all-inclusive and there are currently nine football teams available to those with any disability whether that be learning, physical, reduced stature, autism, cerebral palsy or partially sighted. Click here
for more details.