At DSActive we are so proud of all our athletes who turn up to sessions week in, week out, and of the fantastic clubs and organisations that run them.
Newcastle United Foundation have been running a brilliant football session for players with Down’s syndrome since 2014. The team has traveled across the UK and beyond to compete in tournaments and friendlies.
At the recent End of Year Awards the club named Christopher, one of the players with Down’s syndrome, Disability Player of the Year. Christopher was presented with his award by Newcastle first team player Isaac Hayden.
We caught up with Christopher and his Dad to ask them a bit about their experiences at the session and the award.
Well done on winning the award!!
What do you think about playing football for Newcastle United?
It’s a very good team and we go to lots of tournaments. I like playing for the black and whites.
Did you enjoy getting the award?
Definitely enjoyed getting the award, 100%. I was very proud. The meal was delicious. I liked meeting Gabby Logan and Andy Carroll.
What do you like most about playing football?
I like football training to learn some new skills.
Do you play any other sports?
I swim for the Down’s syndrome Swimming GB Team. I also play table tennis and like snooker.
Which team do you support?
What kind of question is that?! Newcastle United!
Who is your favourite player?
"I'm very proud and my brothers are very jealous!"
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) November 5, 2019
How long has Christopher been playing football?
Christopher has played football since he could run around, so about five. He has two brothers who often played with him up until they moved away.
Were there a lot of options around?
There was absolutely nothing in our area near Alnwick that catered for Christopher. Apparently we were right on the edge of the mail shot sent by DSActive to get involved with them and NUFC Foundation. We’re glad we got it!
What does he get out of playing football?
He loves being part of a team and scoring goals – even though he’s often used as a defender! He enjoys meeting his friends, the coaches and the parents. It gives him a social life as well as keeping him fit and active. He has had two open heart surgeries to correct Fallot’s Tetralogy and replace his pulmonary valve, the latter still leaks and he also has a leaking mitral valve. The fitness he maintains through his football and swimming will help him recover should he need further interventions.
How has he done compared to your expectations?
His first surgeon told us he would never be an Olympic athlete, but he hasn’t done bad! He’s played in many tournaments around the UK and Malaga, played on St James’ Park and met loads of interesting people. He has exceeded all of our expectations.
What do you think about the work Newcastle United in the Community do?
It’s amazing how football can have such an effect in the community, touching the lives of people who are struggling with all sorts of difficulties. The work the Foundation does is truly inspirational when you see what it achieves in giving people support, and hope.
How did you find out Christopher had won the Disability Player of the Year award?
We were asked by one of his coaches to prepare a few words about Christopher as he had been nominated for the award by someone in the Foundation, and we were then contacted by the Foundation and invited to attend the Annual Dinner as he had won the award.
How was the ceremony?
The ceremony was amazing. Extremely well organised, and there were lots of very generous and supportive people. Gabby Logan was very personable and professional, putting everyone at ease. I was so proud of Christopher knowing what he has been through to get there.
Thank you so much for Christopher and his Dad for taking the time to speak to us. If you would like more information about the session with Newcastle United Foundation, please click here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other sessions near you we have a map here!