Everton captain Neville backs disability football
Phil Neville says Everton are at the forefront of disability football in England.
The club captain joined the Everton Foundation’s disability diverse programme to find out how the project encourages youngsters to get involved in blind, deaf and wheelchair football.
His visit came as it was announced The Everton Foundation’s Disability Programme has been awarded the FA Charter Community Club Award.
The accolade, which recognises Everton’s commitment to player and coach development and raising standards of behaviour in the game, is a national kite mark for those clubs that are well run, sustainable and offer opportunities to all.
“We have so many initiatives going on here at Everton,” Neville said. “You come to Finch Farm and see people with all types of disabilities having fun and it is fantastic that these kids get the same opportunities that we got as children.”
The Everton Foundation Disability Programme, which currently runs 23 male and female football teams, is the only specific disability club nationally to win the FA Award
The Blues skipper has personal experience of overcoming disability after his daughter was diagnosed with cerebal palsy when she was just 18-months old.
“I do relate to many of the children here because you know it takes ten times the effort for them to play a football game than a child without a disability.
“You also know the sense of enjoyment they get out of it is probably ten times more than what I did as a kid because it really boosts their confidence.
“It makes them feel normal,” Neville explained. “I know the one thing my daughter always says is ‘I want to be normal’, so when you can play football or write or take up a hobby then you feel you are doing normal things.
During the Creating Chances event at Finch Farm, Neville watched an exhibition of a powered wheelchair game and took part in blind and deaf football.
“Often these children don’t get the opportunity to play football but they do here at Everton. We are the pioneers in terms of providing them with opportunities.”