Everton star Ben Godfrey has surprised an inspirational young Evertonian who, despite a visual impairment, has gone on to win a prestigious footballing award.
Thirteen-year-old Garmon, from North Wales, who has been attending matches at Goodison Park since the age of five, won the Best Grassroots Football Story of the Year Award from the Football Association of Wales for his superb performances for Henllan Juniors football team.
A visual impairment means Garmon plays with sight akin to night vision, but the youngster has spent years working on techniques that have allowed him to thrive in mainstream football.
Garmon’s parents signed him up for Kinmel Bay’s visual impairment team aged five, and his coach, Bill Darwin, was among those who helped him hone his skills and adapt his game.
With the support from Kinmel Bay, Garmon was eventually able to join his friends at Henllan Juniors, a team started by his dad, Gerwyn, with his former coach Bill hailing him as “one of the best players in North Wales in his age group”.
Garmon was on a video call with his mum Iona and coach Bill when Godfrey appeared to congratulate the teenager on his prize and all of his hard work.
A stunned Garmon told Ben about his award win and how he cannot wait to be back playing with his fellow teammates and watching Everton at Goodison when lockdown restrictions end.
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Garmon asked Ben for some tips on tackling and asked him about an online video of the defender showing off his boxing skills.
Godfrey then shared his admiration for the determination that Garmon has shown to improve his game, saying, “Football's hard enough for anyone trying to improve, but for you, Garmon, to be improving and flying as you are, and dealing with what you are, is unbelievable and I’m really happy you won the award. Just keep working hard and keep improving. That’s what we do in football, just be the best we can.”
Ben’s surprise call to Garmon took place during Level Playing Field’s Weeks of Action, which celebrate inclusivity in sport. Now in its 17th season, for 2021, the campaign is shining a light on what clubs, Disabled Supporters’ Associations, fans and other organisations have been doing to support disabled fans who have been shielding or isolated and to ensure access and inclusion.
It followed another video call which saw Godfrey's Everton teammate Alex Iwobi catch up with the disability players who were the stars of this season's hummel third kit launch.
In December 2018, Everton launched All Together Now, its campaign to celebrate diversity and increase awareness of everything done by the Club and Everton in the Community to promote equality.
Since the launch, All Together Now branding and the tagline 'a football family for everyone' has been used across LED perimeter boards, the jumbotron screens and in concourses at Goodison Park on matchdays, while a number of initiatives and schemes to encourage inclusion and celebrate equality and diversity have been introduced or developed.