On Tuesday 11 July, club participants on the Premier League and BT Disability programme took part in a special ‘Festival of Sport’ event at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, to celebrate the first successful year of the Premier League and BT’s partnership.
The ‘Festival of Sport’ was hosted by BT presenters Abi Griffiths and Jake Humphrey, and saw participants from 20 clubs, who run the Premier League and BT Disability programme, take part in a range of different sports, including athletics, boccia and basketball, each developing their own skills throughout the event by recording their best times and results at each sports station.
The three-year Premier League and BT Disability programme aims to inspire disabled people through sport and will see the organisations work together to provide funding to Premier League clubs to create more opportunities for disabled people across England and Wales.
Since the Premier League and BT Disability programme was launched at the London Stadium last September, clubs have engaged over 10,000 disabled people and 27% of those taking part in club sessions have been female.
The programme looks to encourage disabled people to be more physically active and to help access talent pathways and more mainstream opportunities. Other supportive work has been done in partnership with the clubs, The Shippey Campaign and The Lord Taverners to implement sensory rooms at stadiums, following successful introductions at Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Watford.
Jake Humphrey, BT Ambassador, said: “It's amazing to see all of these young kids, giving it their all, and just having a brilliant day. There's a good competitive spirit.
“The important thing, is that without this Premier League and BT initiative, a lot of these groups wouldn't be put on because it just costs so much money and the finances simply wouldn't be there. You come on a day like this and you see that absolutely it is making a difference. It's really important.”
Nick Perchard, Head of Community, Premier League added: “The Festival of Sport was designed to bring together the inspiring individuals from clubs who have been taking part in disability sessions over the past season, to share their stories and experiences, whilst also trying a range of different sports.
“The event has been the perfect way to celebrate the first year of the partnership with BT and to showcase the great inclusive work that clubs are delivering week-in-week-out. I look forward to seeing how this programme continues to develop over the next two years.”
The 2017 World Para Athletics Championships gets underway in London this weekend and the organisers are hoping to inspire this next generation of disabled athletes.