by Robb G, Haydon’s dad
Ever since his brother Luke started playing football, Haydon had loved to watch and play footie with him in the garden.
When Haydon was 11, we were put in touch with one of our local Clubs, Sporting 87 who were known for being really well set up and for integrating children with special needs into their programmes.
The guys at Sporting 87 could not do enough for us including asking the Suffolk Football association if Haydon could play 2 years down at under 9’s instead of under 11’s to give him a chance whilst learning the rules etc.
Having played myself for over 30 years I was a little worried as to how he would get on and how the other boys would take to him, but I needn’t have been.
He was accepted straight away as a member of the team. The boys make sure he is where he needs to be during the game and always make sure he is included in the goal celebrations (which he absolutely loves even to the point of him now taking all of the free kicks and penalties they get and you should see them all celebrate together!!)
It does bring tears to our eyes when even opposition parents are cheering and clapping him when he shows his skill or scores a goal. I think it is a testament to organisations such Sporting 87 and DSActive, that people with Down’s syndrome are now included more in sport in their communities.
Playing football and interacting with the boys has done so much for Haydon’s confidence, speech and general communication skills. He now plays for his own school and is a bit of a star there too I believe!
The photos are from a Sporting 87 tournament last year which was judged not on score, but on skills, passing and sportsmanship. Haydon’s team won. Suffice it to say that every boy in the team wanted Haydon to receive the cup on their behalf. I cannot say enough about them or their coach Trevor.
Sporting 87 have turned Haydon’s dreams into reality.
Haydon needed special sports glasses to play and these were quite expensive. An organisation called Anglers Charity Auctions (I am a very keen angler) helped us, supplying not only his glasses, but new boots, full Man Utd kit and tickets for Haydon to go to old Trafford and watch his favourite team.
The DSActive programme is the only bespoke football and tennis programme for people with Down’s syndrome in the UK. For full details go to www.dsactive.org