Yoan Gouffran and Vurnon Anita launch the Premier League and BT Disability programme at Newcastle United Foundation

BT and the Premier League have committed to a three year programme to inspire thousands of disabled people through sport.

BT and the Premier League have committed to a three year programme toinspire thousands of disabled people through sport.

Players from Newcastle United Foundation’s Frame Football Club and staff from BT’s Newcastle contact centre met Newcastle United’s Yoan Gouffran and Vurnon Anita at the First Team Training Ground to launch the venture.

Newcastle United Foundation currently engages, motivates, and inspires over 1300 children and adults to participate in Disability Football Clubs, which include Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Amputee, Frame, Deaf, Visually Impaired, Blind and Power Chair teams, every year. This new partnership aims to inspire even more disabled people to become active as well as encouraging them to develop new skills and confidence.

This new funding will mean the Foundation can:

  • Employ dedicated staff to work with disabled children and adults
  • Work with hundreds of disabled children in each of the 40 Special Educational Needs schools in the local area
  • Maintain eight popular children’s disability coaching centres and nine centres for adult players with a disability
  • Set up three new children’s Coaching Centres, including the new Frame Football Club
  • Set up five new adult Coaching Centres including Walking Football
  • Establish a new Talent Centre for young Blind Footballers
  • Deliver 12 festivals, tournaments and competitions every year
  • Link with the Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association

Foundation staff will work closely with local agencies to building on existing work and develop new partnerships, which will encourage more disabled people into football or sport. The Premier League and BT disability programme will also offer pathways for players into opportunities such as volunteering, training, apprenticeships and employment. A comprehensive training programme will also be rolled out to all staff to ensure all other Foundation school, community and football programmes are fully inclusive and open to participants of all abilities.

BT staff from across the North East will further support the initiative by giving their time through the company’s employee volunteering scheme. The volunteers will deliver sports sessions alongside Foundation staff as well as supporting key fundraising events.

Launched at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the home of the 2012 London Paralympic and Olympic Games, the Premier League and BT disability programme aims to inspire disabled people to become more active, as well as develop new skills and confidence.

Kate Bradley, Head of Newcastle United Foundation, said: “We are delighted to have this incredible support from BT and the Premier League. We have provided opportunities for disabled players since 2009, but this grant means we can really expand our offer and reach even more children and adults. Above all it means we can ensure that local disabled people can access the sport or physical activity of their choice, inspire them to be more active, and encourage them to develop the skills and confidence needed to realise their potential.”

Newcastle United’s Vurnon Anita added: “It was great to meet so many young footballers today and to hear about the plans the Foundation has for this funding. It will make such a difference and we can’t wait to hear how the players involved develop.”

Farooq Hakim, chairman of BT’s North East regional board, said: “This is a fantastic initiative to support. The work undertaken by the Newcastle United Foundation undoubtedly changes lives and I hope that this fund will enable them to reach out to even more people across our region.

“This is also a great opportunity for BT volunteers in the region to get involved with the programme on the ground, giving their support in time and energy. I know they can’t wait to get started at the sports sessions and are looking forward to supporting fundraising events.”

Alex White, Premier League Charitable Fund executive, added: “The Premier League and BT Disability programme was created to help enhance the disability provision already being delivered by club foundations.

“I hope that the extra support from the Premier League and BT will allow Newcastle to extend their community reach and assist them in delivering more exciting, inspiring, and inclusive sessions.”