Roy Hodgson leads Down’s Syndrome Eagles Training Session

The DS Eagles team got a very big surprise at one of their weekly training sessions recently – Crystal Palace manager, Roy Hodgson!

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is used to running training sessions, but he took charge of a different squad recently. He surprised the Down’s Syndrome Eagles team at their weekly session. He helped players with their shooting skills and he refereed a match.

Photo credit from The PHA Grou

“This group are just fantastic, their enthusiasm, their humanity and their affection, it’s very difficult not to enjoy their company. When I was asked to come here tonight, I was more than happy and it’s great to see them all again.

“Our Foundation does a wonderful job, and you can see how much the children enjoy it and how good the coaches are with the young players, so it’s 100% positive.

“It’s not just about coaching, it’s about enjoyment, pure and simple. The main thing is that they go home each week having really enjoyed it, having had fun and a lot of encouragement and positivity.” Roy Hodgson

Palace for Life Foundation’s Eagles team has been together for five years, training weekly and taking part in friendly matches and tournaments against other clubs. Sessions are based around football skills and motor skills such as agility and coordination, but also importantly helps players to develop their social and communication skills.

“Sometimes when you’re working at the top level, you forget the real basics of what football means to people, we get caught up in the winning and the losing and the hype around the professional game, but really football is this, it’s people coming out with their children on a cold autumn night and watching them enjoy themselves, with no worries about anything other than that.” Roy Hodgson

The DS Eagles were also treated to a visit from Palace Women’s players Freya Holdaway and Ashlee Hincks, who joined in with the training session and played in the match alongside the players. Freya and Ashlee invited the players to be mascots at their game against London City Lionesses on FA Women’s Football Weekend 23rd-24th November 2019.

“It was an absolute pleasure to be here tonight, I think we enjoyed it more than the players! They’re so enthusiastic and proud to play for Palace. We’re really excited to see them again on Sunday, when they’ll be walking out alongside the team.” Ashlee Hincks

“The young people who come here want to play football and they don’t always have the opportunity to do that in mainstream teams. Here, they are welcome straight away. For these players to represent Palace is such an incredible thing for them.” Palace for Life Foundation’s Disability Manager, Michael Harrington

A big thank you to PalaceForLife, Crystal Palace FC and The PHA Group.

To find a session near a DSActive session near you click here or if you’ve been inspired to set up your own DSActive session, you can email the DSActive team to find out how.