Phil Neville visited an Everton in the Community tournament today to help celebrate the launch of a new powered wheelchair football league.
The Everton captain went along to Bootle Leisure Centre to officially launch the Medicash Powered Wheelchair League, which will offer disabled players the chance to participate in regular, competitive fixtures until at least 2015.
Leading Liverpool-based health insurer Medicash has agreed to donate £25,000 through its Charitable Trust to support Everton in the Community, a donation which looks set to allow the charity to unlock matched funding of a further £100,000 imminently.
The first stage of the Medicash sponsorship deal will allow the Blues’ official charity to extend its sporting provision for disabled children across Merseyside, removing the traditional barriers which stop disabled people from participating in sport.
Everton in the Community player ambassador Neville was keen to watch and encourage the disabled players and hand out trophies to the tournament winners.
Speaking at the event, Phil said: “Today has just been fantastic. To see children of all abilities getting stuck in and enjoying football is just amazing and proof that football is a universal sport.
“The smiles on the children’s faces were brilliant and this is why it is so important that we have to support disability sports. On behalf of Everton in the Community I would like to thank Medicash for providing the funding to help us increase our disability football programme and make sport available for everyone,” added Neville.
Thanks to the funding, Everton in the Community’s award-winning disability programme has already extended its after school club scheme to four new schools in the region.
The Blues’ official charity will also use the Medicash sponsorship to increase coaching sessions for players, provide training for local coaches to equip them with the necessary skills to work with disabled people and empower disabled people to take formal sports qualifications themselves.
Matt Allen, finance director of Medicash, the Liverpool-based health insurer which operates the Medicash Charitable Trust, said: “We are dedicated to improving the lives of people and are delighted that our donation of £25,000 will allow Everton in the Community to open up the world of football to wheelchair users throughout the region.”
The launch of the Medicash Powered Football League comes just over a week before Everton in the Community celebrates its 25th anniversary on 1 February.
Over the last 25 years Everton in the Community has grown to be one of the most well-respected and pioneering sporting charities in the UK.
To mark the anniversary, the charity is inviting all Evertonians to be part of an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise £1million to help the charity in its mission to support even more vulnerable and underprivileged people on Merseyside, including those involved in the disability programme.
Everton captain Neville added: “It is vitally important that football clubs help their local communities and as players we must support this activity.
“Everton in the Community undertakes some fantastic work, which is truly inspiring. Myself and the rest of the squad are right behind the 25th anniversary campaign and I urge our great fanbase to do the same and help them reach their £1million target.”
For more information about Everton’s disability programme and the 25th anniversary fundraising campaign, call 0151 530 5253.