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Palace for Life appoint first disability youth ambassador

Five Premier League (PL) clubs have come together to empower young disabled people by creating a youth voice forum that aims to give young people the chance to shape community-focused activity in their local area.

The Disability Ambassador Forum has been established by the Premier League to support and further the involvement of young disabled people in sport and football. The programme aims to engage young people in regular positive and fun experiences and involve them in the design and delivery of future activities.

The first session saw young representatives aged 14-18 years who had previously attend disability sessions at Palace for Life Foundation, Saints Foundation, The Albion Foundation, West Ham United Foundation, Albion in the Community and Watford Community Sports & Education Trust.

This platform created for young people provides a space for them to express their challenges and share solutions to tackle issues faced across sport and society and stimulate positive and proactive change.

Meet Palace for Life’s Ambassador         

“My name is James Harris. I love to follow Crystal Palace and am a season ticket holder. I especially enjoy playing football with the Palace for Life Foundation at Waddon Leisure Centre on Tuesdays.  During these sessions, I particularly enjoyed focussing on improving my goalkeeping skills. I also played football every Saturday in Selsdon Little League for the past 5 years and in the last season as a goalkeeper. I enjoy gaming and watching YouTube, especially goalkeeping videos such as GK GOLUREMI and Ben Fosters new YouTube channel “The cycling Goalkeeper”!

I want to be the voice for Croydon because I feel young disabled people often feel excluded from team sports, but they are good enough. This really has to change because everyone has feelings, and anyone can be inspired to do what they want to do!

“I aim to raise awareness that everyone should be included no matter what their level of skills may be. I played in the Chelsea Foundation tournament as Palace Goalkeeper in May last year, and I got player of the tournament for the team, and this gave me more confidence to become who I am today.

“I have two objectives I would like to see happen for the young disabled people in Croydon in my role as Ambassador for Palace for Life Foundation:

Firstly, it would be incredible to have a league for Palace for Life with a representation of all the disabilities to play against one another or even other boroughs just like the London Youth Games. This can be outside on Saturday mornings, so during Covid, it can still happen.

“Secondly, as a goalkeeper, I would like to inspire other young people to become goalkeepers because I feel the role is neglected, so I would like to start goalkeeper training for young disabled children.”

The young people will be consulted on topics such as the best environment to host football as well as, identifying a diverse range of activities that may encourage people with disabilities to take part and how best to market to a young audience in various mediums.

The Forum has added great value for those CCOs involved as they start to learn more about the experiences of local young people and strive to continue to build stronger, safer and more inclusive communities.

Ben Perryman, Disability Inclusion Officer, added: “We are really pleased to be included in this pioneering programme to grow inclusion in disability football. James is an excellent representative for both our participants and young people in Croydon. We look forward to the insight this will give us in helping us to better provide opportunities and more appealing sessions to young people in our area.”

For more information, email Ben Perryman.

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