Everton manager Roberto Martinez and first team players John Stones and Conor McAleny were the guests of honour last night when they joined Blues legend Graeme Sharp in attending the annual Everton in the Community Disability Awards to recognise the footballing achievement of players from nine disability teams across Merseyside.
Roberto Martinez opened the proceedings and awarded trophies for Players’ Player of the Year and Manager’s Player of the Year to players from Everton in the Community’s world renowned disability programme.
First team players John Stones and Conor McAleny then took their places on stage to present medals of achievement to each participant from the nine teams in attendance before Graeme Sharp then gave out the final awards of the evening in the Special Recognition category.
Hosted by Graeme White and with entertainment provided by local singer and Everton in the Community volunteer Jennifer Jewell, the awards ceremony saw players from the Pan Disability A, B, C and D teams, Pan Disability U16’s A and B teams, Powered Wheelchair team, Adult Deaf team and U12s team all rewarded for their hard work over the last 12months in front of a packed out Isla Gladstone Conservatory.
Speaking after attending the Everton in the Community Disability Awards, boss Martinez said: “I am very much looking forward to seeing this programme continue to grow from strength to strength over the coming years. The people recognised tonight are a hugely committed group of Evertonians and I am proud to have them as part of our football club.”
Stones echoed the sentiments of his manager and added: “Since arriving at Everton I have had the opportunity to go out in the community a few times and see these coaching sessions delivered first hand and so it is great for me to see these young people be rewarded tonight for their hard work and dedication.”
Steve Johnson, Everton in the Community disability manager, said: “It has been great to reward our players tonight and recognise their achievements from over the course of the season. To have Roberto here with us acknowledging their efforts is fantastic. When I first arrived at Everton 12 years ago we only delivered coaching sessions in school, now we are able to deliver sessions to people with all different disabilities who are playing at all different levels.”
The disability programme delivered by the Club’s official charity is one of the largest and most respected in the world and provides football and physical activity opportunities for thousands of disabled children and adults each year.
The programme is all inclusive and there are teams available to those with any disability whether that be learning, physical, reduced stature, autism, cerebral palsy, deaf or partially sighted. In the past year alone, the charity has engaged with nearly 3,000 disabled participants on a local, national and international level. There are currently 26 successful disability teams representing Everton which field a total of 12 current international players.
For more information on Everton in the Community visit http://community.evertonfc.com/