From Bootle To Best…

A football team from Liverpool for players of all ages with special needs or disabilities is planning to take part in its first international tournament with help from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

Bootle Bucks Inclusion FC are raising funds to take a team to the George Best Invitational Community Cup, taking place in Belfast in June, offering a fantastic experience for the players to make their first trip for a tournament together as well as enjoy the competition of the games.

The Steve Morgan Foundation has made a donation of £5,000 to add to other fundraising to help with the costs for players and coaches.

John Rice, one of the voluntary Board members at the Bootle Bucks, explains more about how the team initially started out.

“It came about via a couple of people working with special needs children in the Sefton area and realising there was no team available for people with special needs or disabilities to play football,” says John.

“With a few more lads from the supporters group of local non-league side Bootle FC, whom we support, we started Bootle Bucks Inclusion FC,  put a few sessions on and it just grew from there.

“We had 15 young players at our first session almost a year ago, and now we get over 80 coming along.

“It all seems to have spread mainly via word of mouth, and parents who have children with special needs always tend to be in close contact with each other so they can let each other know when something comes up which works well.

“And the club has been absolutely massive for the kids.

“I am sure the parents won’t mind me saying that a few of the kids didn’t really want to carry on with life when they first came along.

“They felt that they had no friends, and their parents weren’t mixing in the same circles where they could make new friends, and it can be very difficult to bring up a child with special needs.

“We are not miracle workers, but we are able to put sessions on which the kids enjoy, and help them come into the club, meet other people and improve their confidence.

“They can then use the skills and experiences they pick up from football to take into other areas of their lives, and it helps them to improve at school and try out other new things.”

Bootle Bucks Inclusion FC run four Under-13 teams in the Merseyside Ability Counts League, alongside both Liverpool and Everton football clubs, as well as Warrington Wolves.

There is also an Under-16 team, Open Age team, and links with other clubs where players who may not be quite ready for that level can still enjoy a spot of competitive football.

The grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation is a real boost to the fundraising which will see the team head to Belfast for the George Best Community Cup, an annual five-a-side tournament for disabled players organised by the Irish Football Association.

The tournament is supported by the George Best Foundation and Cash for Kids through the Mary Peters Trust.

“It is amazing to have this grant to help us,” added John.

“When I got the call from Jane (Harris) I was in tears to be honest.

“To know that the Steve Morgan Foundation understand our aims and our ethos, and are willing to support us, is a great step forward in our fundraising.

“We want to try and pay for all of our players, many of whom come from single parent or low-income families, as it is difficult to be an inclusive club if people aren’t able to come along.

“We staged a tournament ourselves at Bootle FC with 15 teams last September, but this will be something else, getting away together, going in a plane, and teaching the lads about independence.

“There will be 72 teams taking part and it promises to be a fantastic experience.”

Everyone from the Steve Morgan Foundation wishes Bootle Bucks Inclusion FC all the best with their fundraising and then at the tournament itself.

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