Disability Manager Michael Harrington began his role at Palace for Life in 2004, and since then has grown the Disability department from the ground up. To recognise his contribution, he has been presented with the ‘One of Our Own’ award as part of the Premier League Supports campaign, which highlights the exceptional commitment and contributions made by figures in the community.

Michael was working in a completely different industry before making the move to the charity sector to coach football, a pursuit he’s remained dedicated to since his very first day. He began his role at Palace for Life in the infancy of the Disability department, and since then, the number of people Michael and his team have supported has risen from zero to thousands.

Michael is a pioneer in Disability sport. He has grown various projects including school programmes, vision impaired and blind football, Down’s Syndrome and Powerchair football, football for those living with mental health conditions, and learning disability projects across south London – reaching participants ranging from five years old to adults in their fifties, from a variety of different backgrounds.

Having spent 18 years at Palace for Life, Michael is one of the longest-serving members of staff and has been responsible for delivering practical coaching himself, as well as coordinating his team and admin behind the scenes – as his department has grown, so has his workload!

Michael Harrington receiving his ‘One Of Our Own’ plaque and scarf from the Premier League

In his area of work, there can be challenging safeguarding issues that arise from time to time and Michael has always remained professional and supported his participants through some incredibly challenging situations, regularly going above and beyond to support the individuals he has built such important connections with.

There have been some real highlights during his career, including when the Down’s Syndrome Eagles took part in first-team training, winning Parasport’s Club of the Month, and leading the Powerchair team to championship success last season.

Michael’s achievements have been rightly recognised throughout his career, having won a Disability Champion Award from Crystal Palace F.C. and recently been nominated for Coach of the Year for the Grassroots Football Awards by the Football Association.

Having turned down other opportunities in order to stay directly supporting people day-to-day, Michael’s passion and longevity shine through to everyone at Palace for Life and despite being a lifelong West Ham fan, he’s certainly One of Our Own.

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