Everton manager Marco Silva and first-team stars Leighton Baines and Yerry Mina were the guests of honour at the annual Everton in the Community Disability Awards, held at the Isla Gladstone Conservatory on Tuesday evening.
Blues boss Silva and his players were also joined by Club Ambassadors Graham Stuart and Ian Snodin to help celebrate another successful year for all 10 of the charity’s disability teams that play across Merseyside including Everton Amputees representing England in the first ever European Amputee Football Federation Champions League and the Under 16 Pan Disability Ashley Premiership team securing a title win in the Greater Manchester League.
Sponsored by Charities Trust and Sportech, the ceremony was opened by Everton in the Community Chief Executive Richard Kenyon who congratulated the players on a fantastic year of individual and team achievements and passed on a personal message of thanks from Everton Football Club Chairman Bill Kenwright who, after being so impressed when hearing about their achievements, has personally offered to provide free tickets to all of the charity’s disability players and a guest to watch the Blues take on Watford in the upcoming Carabao Cup tie at Goodison Park on Tuesday 29 October.
First-team duo Baines and Mina were called up on stage to the sound of Z-Cars and presented awards for Players’ Player of the Year and Manager’s Player of the Year to each of the 10 teams in attendance before Everton Manager Marco Silva was then announced to the room as a surprise special guest and took his place on stage to rapturous applause to present medals to every individual player in recognition of their fantastic achievements over the last 12 months.
Columbian international Mina was also in attendance at last year’s Disability Awards and this year said: “It has been very good to come here today with Leighton and our manager and spend time with everyone. We have all had a great evening celebrating and there were lots of smiles from all the players and their families. It is a wonderful event and I am looking forward to next year’s awards already!”
The ceremony saw players from Everton’s Under 13s, Archbishop Beck Under 16s, Ashley School Premier League Under 16s, Ashley School Championship Under 16s, Pan Disability League One, Pan Disability Championship, Pan Disability Premier League, Amputee team, Down syndrome team and Women’s Pan Disability all called on stage to be presented with their medal by Marco Silva and pose for photographs.
Speaking after the Awards, Manager Silva said: “It was a great honour to be invited tonight and join these inspirational players in celebrating their achievements from the last year. Our disability programme here at Everton in the Community is incredible and provides so many great opportunities to young people and adults across the city. I am very proud of each and everyone in this room.”
Club Ambassador Ian Snodin and Graham Stuart then took part in a short question and answer session with host Graeme White and shared their congratulations with the room before Disability Manager Steve Johnson delivered the closing remarks to all players and thanked their friends and family for their continued support:
“Our annual disability awards are one of the highlights in our calendar and every year the night is a great success. It is a chance to bring all of our players together with their families to celebrate their achievements and it really is special for everyone involved.
“I would also like to thank Marco Silva, Yerry Mina and Leighton Baines for joining us tonight and our sponsors Charities Trust and Sportech for their fantastic support not only tonight but also for their financial backing which means we will be able to sustain and grow our programmes over the next three years.”
The disability programme, which is delivered by the Club’s official charity and funded by the Premier League and BBC Children in Need, is one of the largest in the world and provides football and physical activity opportunities for thousands of disabled children and adults each year.
The disability programme is all-inclusive and there are teams available to those with any disability whether that be learning, physical, reduced stature, autism, cerebral palsy or partially sighted.
For more information about Everton in the Community’s disability programmes visit www.evertonfc.com/community
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