GALLERY: Disabled children represent Bromley in Panathlon Football Cup at Wembley Stadium
PUBLISHED: 12:22 07 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:22 07 December 2015
Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Images 2015
The joint team from Riverside, Glebe and Marjorie McClure Schools were competing as one of the best eight boroughs from Panathlon's London-wide football programme
A team of disabled children from various Bromley schools represented the borough at a football tournament at Wembley Stadium last week.
The joint team from Riverside, Glebe and Marjorie McClure Schools were competing in the Panathlon Football Cup as one of the best eight boroughs from its London-wide football programme, which gives severely disabled young people the chance to compete in tournaments.
Both the under-13s and under-16s teams finished bottom of their eight-team round-robin tournament, but that didn’t stop players and teachers enjoying the experience.
Steve Day, PE coordinator at Riverside School: “It’s fantastic - a wonderful opportunity for children with a wide spectrum of disabilities to get involved and play.
“Not many people get to play in a tournament under the Wembley arch, so it’s great.
“The kids are really enjoying it, there’s great camaraderie and really good sportsmanship, which is good to see.”
Lauren Hastings, PE teacher at Marjorie McClure School added: “For us, Panathlon is about everyone being equal and able to play. So many people get the chance to play, the experience for our kids is really positive. It’s just brilliant.”
Bromley’s under-16s team were coached at the finals by two Riverside School students, Max Ash and Jake Piller.
Both boys, who are working towards formal coaching qualifications, are on the autistic spectrum but are classified by Panathlon’s grading system as too good to play themselves, so instead they were given the opportunity to lead the team at the finals.
Max, 14, said: “It’s been a great experience. It’s new to us as we’ve always loved playing football and being part of the team, but now we’re managers. It’s a bit more serious now, but you’ve still got to have a bit of fun. Being at Wembley has been great. The players have loved it, looking up at the arch and saying ‘that’s where England play’.”