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NUFC Stars Support Disability Football Programme

Newcastle United players Jack Colback and Yoan Gouffran have given their support to an initiative that is helping disabled children to enjoy playing football for the very first time.

The Football For All Schools Programme offers fun-filled coaching sessions to youngsters with varying mobility and participants at Sir Charles Parsons School in Walker had a session with a difference on Tuesday afternoon when the Magpies stars turned up to join in.

Tyneside-born Colback and French teammate Gouffran, who both featured in the Magpies’ Barclays Premier League victory over Queens Park Rangers at the weekend, made their surprise visit on behalf of the Newcastle United Foundation and the sponsors who make it all possible: People’s Postcode Trust, leading nursery operator Kids 1st and BBC Children in Need.

With their backing, the Foundation is now able to run the programme in 47 special educational needs (SEN) establishments in the North East, offering each a free six-week block of in-school football sessions. Last year alone, the programme made football accessible to 584 disabled children.

The visits also act as taster sessions for the children to attend the Newcastle United Foundation’s weekly evening and after-school coaching centres for disabled children, which are located throughout the region.

Newcastle United midfielder, Jack Colback, said: “We have had a really enjoyable afternoon meeting the kids. It was great to see how the coaches are helping them overcome the challenges they face every day so that they can enjoy playing football together.

“Being from Newcastle, I know how powerful football can be in this city, especially when it’s orientated around Newcastle United. The Foundation does a brilliant job in using that to help people who really need support so the players are very proud to get behind it.”

Reggie Dornan, disability football development officer at Newcastle United Foundation, said: “The programme gives children with a range of disabilities the chance to participate in football in school for the first time and to play with children of similar ability without the fear of being overlooked or left out.

“We have seen noticeable increases in children’s confidence and self-esteem as their skill and mobility levels develop and that has been a fantastic indicator of how successful the programme has become. Many children have gone on to attend our weekly coaching centres and they now play regularly for the football teams we have created for them.”

The Foundation is now set to develop the skills of even more disabled youngsters after Kids 1st renewed its sponsorship of the Football For All Schools Programme for a second year.

Helen McArdle, chairman of Kids 1st, added:”We are delighted to show our continued support for the Newcastle United Foundation and the Football For All Schools Programme.

“Sport is such a valuable part of a child’s education; even more so for a child who faces the challenges of a disability, so it’s an immensely worthwhile partnership. We are very much looking forward to seeing the programme continue to flourish over the next twelve months.”

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