As today is a designated 'Day of Disabilities' within the English Football League, we take a look at the work our Trust do within the community, as well as the fantastic staff that work there...
Earlier this year, the Trust were delighted to confirm their long running relationship with Millwood Primary Special School.
For many years now, we have had the privilege of being able to deliver a range of sports activities to the pupils and helping to up-skill the staff. We deliver inclusive PE, and have also helped to run extra curricular activities.
Some current and former pupils of Millwood have also gone on to attend some of our other sessions outside of school, and to also represent our club in the Greater Manchester Ability Counts Football League. The school has also been involved in player visits at the school, Christmas present giveaways and match day activities at the club and with the players. It is a great partnership, and one we hope continues for many years to come.
Raffi is 20 years old and football mad. He eats, sleeps, and breaths football. Since he was a child, all he has ever wanted to do is be involved in the sport and has aspirations to be a coach.
Things have not always been easy for Raffi though, who has had mobility problems for years, finally being diagnosed last year with a condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT). Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a group of inherited conditions that damage the peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves are found outside the main central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).The disease affects Raffi’s hands and legs, making mobility more difficult.
This hasn't stood in Raffi’s way though, not only is he a huge part of our Ability Counts project as a very successful player, but Raffi is well on his way to achieving his goal of becoming a football coach. Having already completed his FA Level 1, Raffi also volunteers for the Trust alongside studying at The Football College, his main duty being the coaching on the junior Ability Counts teams, helping to nurture the future of the Bury FC Boys and Girls Disability section.
Raffi has been truly inspiring, overcoming so many personal struggles, always positive and smiling, and building so many great friendships along the way.
For the last seven years, we have been working closely with First Point Family Services. First Point do an amazing job of bridging the gap between families and services to help improve their lives.
Many of the families under First Point have children with complex and additional needs, and often need support to access services including sports and other activities within the community. Our partnership with First Point has helped to provide some families with these services, helping children to socialise and keep active whilst also providing the families with support and often some much needed respite.
Some of the activities we have helped with have included our Saturday and Holiday programmes, parties and events, such as our kids' Christmas party and Easter egg hunt and even supported with providing young people with match day experiences and player visits. With the support of First Point, we hope to help and support more young people and their families.
Paul, aged 30, was born with a condition called Scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition where the spine twists and curves to the side, and can affect people of any age, from babies to adults, but most often starts in children aged 10 to 15. Scoliosis isn't a condition that will improve without treatment, which is often major, high-risk surgery. It can often cause respiratory problems, severe back, hip and leg pain, and stunt growth.
Paul had surgery aged 3, which was surgery to prevent the curve worsening, but not necessarily to improve. Through school, Paul was always interested in football, loved playing but found opportunities hard to come by and after leaving school found that he was increasingly being left out of teams that friends were a part of, due to no longer being able to keep up physically.
This ultimately affected Paul’s confidence and mood. Imagine not being able to do something you like through no fault of your own. His life took a positive turn however, at age 24; Paul had been referred to physio due to issues with his back and legs, and after a conversation with his physiotherapist, Bury FC Ability Counts was recommended.
This meant a new lease of life for Paul, who not only was able to play football again, but make new friends too. Fast forward six years, Paul went on to captain the team and make over 100 appearances, gaining promotion and winning a league in his first 2 seasons coaching the team. Not only that, but he has now become an integral part of the Bury FC Trust team, gaining new qualifications and a new career along the way.