Wigan Athletic duo throw their support behind EFL initiative
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The weekly session, run by Latics in the Community, provides football for children and adults with a range of disabilities and aims to improve their physical health and wellbeing, while also supporting the social development of participants by enabling them to play and socialise with like-minded people with similar life experiences.
The Every Player Counts programme has helped more than 12,000 people with a wide range of disabilities to play football - many for the first time, while many of the participants have also suffered low confidence and struggled to engage in the wider community.
Now, thanks to the programme, they have made new friendships and built their self-esteem, becoming regulars with Latics disability sports provisions.
“It’s fantastic to see so many taking part in the session,” Birch said. “And I it’s something that again demonstrates the power of football bringing a community together.
“It’s great to see the participants engaged with the players, and I think it means something to the players too, for them to be giving something back to their local community and their club.
“Each community is slightly different and each local area has a slightly different need and that’s what clubs do so well, they cater to what is needed in their area.
"That’s the beauty of football and the role it plays within the communities - it draws together such a wide variety of projects and programmes, that cater for different people.”
The EFL’s Week of Action has run all week, shining a light on the crucial and impactful work EFL clubs and club community organisations deliver in their local communities, demonstrating the life-changing work that takes place across England and Wales.
EFL clubs support hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people all year round, with the demand continuing to rise from challenges including the current cost of living crisis.
Birch added: “Clubs’ community work reaches almost a million people each year, and it’s important we celebrate that and demonstrate that impact because the role clubs have to play is vital.”