Tuesday (21 March) marks World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness day that helps to highlight what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with the condition play a vital role in our lives and communities.
In celebration of the annual event, which has been running since 2006, Everton stars Seamus Coleman and Ian Snodin met participants from Everton in the Community’s Down syndrome team at Everton Free School to take part in a game of football.
Before the game got underway, Republic of Ireland captain Coleman and Club Ambassador Snodin sat down with the participants to help them in a design session as part of the #lotsofsocks
campaign, an action that encourages the general public to wear different socks to help raise awareness and to get people talking about Down syndrome.
The group of participants then led the Blues duo into the sports hall where they took part in a warm-up session led by EITC coaches, before facing each other in a competitive and adrenaline-fuelled match.
Speaking afterwards, Coleman said: “I’ve really loved being here today and, first and foremost, I was just delighted to be asked down to get involved. The game was great, some of the finishing of the players was brilliant and it’s something I have really enjoyed. Everyone got into it straight away and the sweat on my forehead shows you I include myself in that!
“We’re a family-orientated Club and as players, we really enjoy coming down to be a part of it and putting smiles on people’s faces. They’ve also put a smile on my face this evening and I’m going home very happy as well.”
Each year the aim of World Down Syndrome Day is to help advocate for the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down syndrome and each year the voice of people with the condition, and those who live and work with them, grows louder.
Former defender Snodin added: “It was absolutely fantastic. Seamus and I have just spoken afterwards and we both agreed - you can’t not enjoy spending time with this group of kids.
“We’ve had an hour and a half with the team, colouring socks for the awareness day, and then we got to see them play football and the energy they have, which especially showed in the celebrations after they had scored! It has been a genuine pleasure to be with everyone.”
The Everton in the Community Down syndrome team has been running for more than three years and sees them train once a week and compete every other week in an open disability league. Through football, this project aims to create a multi-tier learning environment for the participants that will improve their overall physical, social and emotional abilities.
The Club’s official charity, offers more than 40 programmes, covering a range of social issues including health, employability, anti-social behaviour, crime, education, dementia, poverty, youth engagement, youth justice and disability. Operating seven days a week, 365 days a year, EITC supports the most vulnerable and underprivileged members of the community.