We are asking for donations to help fund a new wheelchair accessible mini bus that will mean more of our disabled footballers and their equipment can get to and from matches.
At Albion in the Community we currently run more than 30 regular football sessions across Sussex for people living with a disability. Those sessions are attended by hundreds of people of all ages and we also run a growing number of teams that compete regionally or nationally.
Many of our most-successful teams have to travel a long way for matches. Brighton & Hove Albion Powerchair FC, for example, play all their games in Nottingham. We also run a cerebral palsy team, an amputee team, a second powerchair team and a deaf team – all of which compete in regional or national competitions against teams from all over England.
We currently have one specialist mini bus that was generously funded by the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund but with the number of teams going up, it is always in demand.
That is why we have launched our Get us to the Match campaign with the aim of collecting enough money to lease a second wheelchair accessible mini bus for the next three years.
That will cost around £30,000 but the good news for us and our players is that a generous long-term supporter of our work has offered to match every pound raised by the campaign – leaving us with a £15,000 target.
Paul Brackley, our disability manager, said he hoped as many people as possible would back the campaign.
“Our teams have to travel a long way to play their games,” he said. “Having a second accessible mini bus would mean more players from our disability sessions could take part in matches and tournaments and get the chance to represent Brighton & Hove Albion.”
Any new mini bus would also be used during the week to transport our specialist equipment to and from the many schools, colleges and businesses that we currently deliver disability awareness workshops and training to.
And, in an effort to help more of the Albion’s disabled supporters attend the Seagulls’ away games, we plan on making the bus available for away travel when not being used by the charity’s teams.
Jadey Yesilada, who is our official ambassador, plays powerchair football and is a season ticket holder, helped come up with the idea for the campaign and is clear that a second bus would make all the difference to supporters as well as players.
The 24-year-old, who has cerebral palsy and uses a motorised chair, said: “It is difficult to make away games and can be expensive. A second bus would mean more disabled fans could travel to games and get to enjoy cheering on the Albion.”
Please help us continue to expand our disability football programme by donating towards our Get us to the Match appeal. It costs around £5,000 a year to run one of our weekly disability football sessions, so as a charity we have to make every single penny count.
On behalf of everyone at Albion in the Community and all our players – thank you.