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Upbeat footballers aim for lottery goal

PUBLISHED: 14:55 25 November 2009 | UPDATED: 10:19 12 August 2010

A DOWN S syndrome football team are gunning for lottery cash to help them take on the capital s best sides. Charlton Upbeats, part of Charlton Athletic Football Club s community programme, hope to win £38,000 from the People s Millions in a public vote o

A DOWN'S syndrome football team are gunning for lottery cash to help them take on the capital's best sides.

Charlton Upbeats, part of Charlton Athletic Football Club's community programme, hope to win £38,000 from the People's Millions in a public vote on ITV's London Tonight today (Thursday).

The Down's syndrome project is barely six months old but has already attracted 60 footballers aged between five and 26 from Bexley, Bromley, Dartford and Gravesend.

Money will enable the team to expand its horizons and play Premier League Down's sides such as Fulham Football Club.

A crew from ITV filmed the players in action at Charlton FC's training ground at Sparrow's Lane, New Eltham.

Barry Simmons, the club's disability and mental health officer, said the children have helped make their own promotional DVD and handed outs leaflets at a recent game against Milton Keynes to help bag vital public support on voting day.

Mr Simmons said: "The children really enjoyed having ITV come along. They responded very well. It's given them something to work towards.

"They love turning up to training, but the children have really got behind this lottery scheme.

"The money will help us improve activity sessions and give us impetus to play sides like Fulham and QPR who have well-established programmes."

The name, Charlton Upbeats, was chosen earlier this month by the club's first-team captain, Nicky Bailey, from a shortlist made by the children.

He said: "As it is an inspirational name it will also help persuade any other young people who have Down's syndrome and who may be thinking of joining the programme to give it a go.

"This is a tremendous programme and I wish it every success." Members of the public can vote for the scheme from 9am until midnight.

The number will be released on the day during London Tonight and at www.peoplesmillions.org.uk. Results will be revealed the following day.

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