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Saturday, March 26, 2011

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Independent - Neil Warnock: Brazilian team's visit to QPR took me back to the night I saw Pele embarrass Wednesday - What I learnt This WeekSaturday, 26 March 2011

I was able to rekindle a vivid childhood memory on Thursday when the great Brazil trained at Loftus Road. We are so lucky having a ground in the centre of London, first Barcelona came here, now Brazil, who were preparing for tomorrow's match against Scotland at the Emirates.

They have got to be the most enjoyable footballers I've seen in my lifetime. I'll never forget the first time I saw them in the flesh. It was 1962, I was 13, and Pele's Santos played a friendly at Hillsborough. Even watching Santos provided a whole new meaning to football, the way they passed it around. The only English team I've ever seen play in a similar way are Arsène Wenger's Arsenal.

Everything seemed to stop and everyone in the crowd gasped whenever Pele touched the ball. Santos won 4-2 and Pele scored from a penalty, which I remember clearly because he just walked up to it, dummied, watched the goalkeeper dive one way, then rolled it into the other side of the net. No one had seen that done before – you have to remember this was nearly 50 years ago. The funny thing was Sheffield Wednesday got a penalty soon after and their captain, Colin Dobson, tried to do the same. The Santos keeper didn't buy the dummy and just picked up Dobson's shot.

Pele really was a true great and it must help the Brazilian kids at a young age, playing barefoot on the beach and in the favela shanty towns, it has to develop their technique.

They had a proper workout on Thursday which I enjoyed watching, and they were great afterwards signing shirts and, as you can see, happy to have their photographs taken. I had a good chat with their manager, Mano Menezes, and told Neymar there were other teams in London if he didn't fancy Chelsea (you may recall he turned down a move to Stamford Bridge in August), and life wasn't all about money. He had fantastic skill, he reminded me of Adel Taarabt. I also had a chat with David Luiz, who of course did join Chelsea. He was brilliant with William and his friend Louis. All in all I've never met such a polite group of players.

I told them it will be a great atmosphere because the Scots are sure to turn out in force. It'll bring back memories for me of when England used to play Scotland at Wembley. London seemed to be Scottish for two days. It was amazing and, although there was some trouble in the later years, most games it was fine. I just hope everyone approaches tomorrow in great spirit and enjoys it.

Obviously, Jamie Mackie is gutted to miss out on the match being injured but the Scotland manager, Craig Levein, has invited him to be part of it, which is a lovely gesture.

2. Even without Bale, today will be tough for England

All eyes today will be on Cardiff for what promises to be a lot closer match than most people would predict, despite the absence of Wales' Gareth Bale. I bet Glen Johnson was relieved about that but it is such a pity for Gary Speed, who would have loved to have his full team of players available. Nevertheless, you can't write off any team that has Craig Bellamy in it and I'm sure the racket in Cardiff will make for a very uncomfortable afternoon for England.

With all the talk this week surrounding John Terry's reinstatement as captain, I expect he'll be pleased to get back on the pitch and do what he does best. I was not surprised all the players backed him. Let's be honest, who would say anything and jeopardise their own position?

3. Tragedy in player's family puts game into perspective

I was in central London on Sunday night with Adel Taarabt, who was picking up an award for being the Football League's Player of the Year. It was well-deserved despite some strong competition because there's some quality players in the Championship. Grant Holt, at Norwich, and Swansea's Scott Sinclair were also shortlisted and Reading's Shane Long and Danny Graham at Watford must have been in contention as well, not forgetting Jay Bothroyd, who was picked for England earlier in the season. It shows the ability of players around the Championship.

Adel's the youngest of that six and it is easy to forget he is only 21. He's played 37 games this season and he said to me: "I've never played this many games in my life, gaffer." Last Saturday, at Doncaster, would have been his 38th. Despite having a virus all week he said at half-nine in the morning he was going to play. Then at 10 he got a phone call saying his cousin had been shot dead in Marseilles. As he was telling me I could see he was distraught and I sent him straight back to London. He would not have been in any state to play but that wasn't the point. Family is always more important than football. I told him that, and told him to get off home. Hogan Ephraim replaced him, and who scored the winner? It's strange how football sometimes works out like that.

Adel's in Morocco now. He was going anyway to play for Morocco against Algeria, which is like England v Scotland apparently, but more lively, so I told him to spend a few days with his family.

4. Strauss's side can deliver with backs to the wall

Everyone else will write our cricket team off in today's World Cup quarter-final against Sri Lanka but I'm confident. It's when our sportsmen are written off we are at our most dangerous. The flip side is that, as the England rugby team showed last week, we are at our most vulnerable when being praised.

5. Wii leads the Warnock household a merry dance

I went to watch Amy horse-riding on Tuesday. I used to dread the thought of my kids riding after a young lady in our village in Cornwall fell from her horse and suffered a bad injury. But Amy was so happy doing it with some of her friends. As she said, she has just as much chance of having an accident anywhere else in her life. You have to let them do things like that, otherwise you may as well wrap them in cotton wool. No doubt when we eventually move to Cornwall we'll get her a pony, but it's not fair to have one now when we don't live down there.

The other popular activity in our house is Wii dancing. When Natalie came to babysit William and Amy on Sunday they couldn't wait for us to go out so they could all get on it. People talk about computer games being bad for kids but this one must be healthy with all that exercise. Sharon had to sit down after half an hour, she was exhausted, but the kids somehow just kept going. And me? I was huddled on the sofa under two blankets because they were so hot they insisted on having the back door wide open.

6. The only unwanted points I've picked up this season

I was the only Championship manager to pick up three points in midweek, only it was no cause for celebration. They were for speeding.

On my way back from Cornwall on Thursday I was dictating this column on hands-free and forgot about watching the speedometer. You know what happened next. I was pulled up on the M5 by an unmarked police car and ended up with three points on my previously clean licence, and a £60 fine. It was ironic, given I had a couple of signed shirts and a ball in the back of the car for a police charity event.

Policemen always seem to be quite pleased when they are doing you. They seem to get the same thrill as I do when we score a goal. He recognised me, but said he hadn't got a clue about football so it wasn't personal. Typically, a car flew past a few miles later doing about 150mph and there was no sign of the police then.


Croydon Guardian
Fulham host a day to remember

Friday 25th March 2011

Fulham Football Club Foundation hosted the first national Premier League Down’s Syndrome Football Festival on Sunday, in association with the Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) and Football Aid.

The day saw nine teams, from as far out as Ipswich, Cardiff and Hull travel to Fulham’s Motspur Park Training Ground to partake in a day of activities and tournaments aimed at raising the awareness of today’s World Down’s Syndrome Day (Monday 21st March) and the start of the National Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week.

Eighty-four players donning their respective team’s kit took to the pitch in front of 403 spectators. The nine teams involved were: Fulham Badgers QPR Tiger Cubs Charlton Upbeats West Ham DS Hammers Ipswich Town FC Trust DS Team Cardiff City Blue Birds Hull City DS Team Harvesters DSActive Hereford Bulls Those aged 12 years and under at the event engaged in some skill based football activities, capping their day off with a match. The 13+ group played a round robin, six-a-side tournament with each match lasting eight minutes.

The teams were split into 2 leagues on the day, with the Fulham Badgers facing tough opposition in their League One matches from rival London clubs the Charlton Upbeats, West Ham DS Hammers and the QPR Tiger Cubs.

The Charlton Upbeats rightfully lifted the League One trophy having won all of their matches. Cardiff City Blue Birds topped League Two, pipping Harvesters DSActive to the trophy by one point. Other runners up in that league were Hull City DS Team and the Ipswich Town FC Trust DS Team.

The festival was made possible thanks to a donation of £19,333 from the Premier League and Football Aid benefitting the Down’s Syndrome Association. DSA Patron and professional footballer Kevin Kilbane added his full support by taking part in the warm up and cheering from the touch line whilst the games were underway.

Former Fulham favourite, Simon Morgan, now Head of Community Development at the Premier League, was also around on the day to show the great support the Premier League has given the DSActive project since the pioneering Fulham Badgers team was formed in June 2006.

DSA Patron and Professional Footballer Kevin Kilbane summed up the day: “Numerous teams have joined since the launch of the Fulham Badgers in 2006 and now DSActive is benefitting people with Down’s syndrome through football. Today’s festival, I hope, is the first of many. The DSA has been great to my family amongst many families. It has been wonderful to come down and support the event.”

Premier League

Down's Syndrome Festival a great success

The first Premier League Down's Syndrome Football Festival has been held at Fulham's Motspur Park.

The event gave Down's Syndrome teams from across England the opportunity to show of their skills in the professional surroundings of Fulham's training ground on Sunday, writes Claire Harmer.

With the help of a donation of £19,333 from the Premier League and Football Aid, the Down's Syndrome Association (DSA) invited nine teams, 84 players and their families to enjoy a special day that marks the start of this year's annual Down's Syndrome awareness events, coming just a day before World Down's Syndrome Day on Monday 21st March.

Not only did the players have the chance to take part in what was for many their first competitive football tournament, the day also provided an ideal opportunity for disability coaches from all over the country to develop their skills and gain a better understanding of Down's Syndrome football.

After a warm-up, the players were split into two groups; older (13 plus) and younger (12 and under). The younger group engaged in football activities including Dribble Relay and Ring of Fire capping their day off with fun match. The older group played a round robin in six-a-side format with each match lasting eight minutes, with each team playing six matches.

After the festival, coaches attended a workshop to discuss the special considerations that are needed when working with Down's Syndrome players, how to set up a team and how to get the local community involved.

During the session, a new coaches resource produced by the Down's Syndrome Association, was unveiled which has been designed to address the bespoke needs of players with Down's Syndrome.

fantastic programme

Patricia James, the Down's Syndrome's Association's Corporate Manager and head of DSActive, the Down Syndrome Association's football programme, explained how the event came about, saying: "This is the first time we've done a national football festival.

"The Premier League Down's Syndrome festival has brought together nine teams, from London based-clubs, Cardiff City, Hereford and Hull. We held a festival last year for the London based teams, which Fulham kindly hosted and we've made it a national tournament this year.

"For most of these kids it's the first time they've engaged in a match setting, so they've been able to use the skills they've learned at training and apply them to a match. It's not really about winning or losing but it's about participation.

"DSActive is a fantastic programme bringing football to people with Down's Syndrome and days like this prove to everyone how well people with Down's Syndrome can engage with football. It's getting them to learn the fundamentals which this programme focuses on.

"Hopefully it will be the first of many events and now, with the credibility of being able to say the Premier League and Football Aid have put their quality stamp on it, we will be able to attract future funding for the Down's Syndrome Association. There is no doubt about it, this wouldn't have been possible without the support of the Premier League.

great success

Former Sunderland, Everton and Wigan Athletic star Kevin Kilbane, whose seven-year old daughter has Down's Syndrome, was there in his role as patron for the Down's Syndome Association and hailed the day a great success.

"It's been a great event. There are so many teams involved now, which has been the key to the event being the success it is. It's wonderful to see.

"I became involved with the Down's Syndrome Association seven years ago. My daughter has Down's Syndrome and I contacted them just for support at first, to try and see what the future had in store. Since then the DSA asked me to do a few events for them and to become a patron of the charity.

"It's great that we've got the Premier League and Football Aid on board, because without them events like this wouldn't be able to happen."

Down Syndrome Association DSActive

Simon Morgan, the Premier League's Head of Community Development hopes the day will be the first of many as the Premier League look to get young people with Down's Syndrome involved in regular football.

"As part of the Premier League's Creating Chances programme, we've been involved with the Down's Syndrome Association for a while. Fulham have a Down's Syndrome team and I was involved in setting that up when I worked at the club and it's grown so quickly.

"It's a perfect scheme for the Premier League to be involved with. Days like this make a really positive difference to people with Down's Syndrome.

"They need the opportunity to participate in football and lead a more active lifestyle. If also gives the children's parents the opportunity to come together and share their experiences. We've seen over the years through Fulham's involvement that it's been of a real benefit to the children with Down's Syndrome.

"The event has been a great experience for everyone involved. The Hull team were telling me how they came down on the team bus, stayed overnight in a hotel and they've been treated fantastically well and are here enjoying their football now. The event just proves the power football has to reach everyone in the community.

"This isn't a one off event from the Premier League. The objective is to get more clubs involved so that these children get the opportunity to play weekly football with a competitive element. It fits perfectly under our Creating Chances banner."

successful day

Fulham FC Foundation Chief Executive Steven Day explained how Fulham first got involved with the Down's Syndrome Association.

"We've been working with the Down's Syndrome Association for about five or six years now, and we pioneered the first Down's Syndrome team with them, the Fulham Badgers, and it's grown from strength to strength," he said. "We are working with the DSA to help more clubs have a Down's Syndrome team.

"It's been a very successful day. The kids seem to be really enjoying the games and we are really pleased to have been able to host it and have so many people enjoying the football.

"For us its an important part of the work that we do and it is just one element of all of the work we do across the Foundation. It's a great opportunity to bring people together using high quality facilities and it really does bring home the value of what all the Premier League clubs do in their community work. It's a lovely example of how we can make use of facilities that today wouldn't have been used otherwise and let the kids enjoy them."

With all the matches played, Charlton Upbeats pipped local rivals West Ham DS Hammers to the top of League 1, while Cardiff City Blue Birds came top in League 2.

Charlton Upbeats Cardiff City Blue Birds
West Ham DS Hammers Harvesters DSActive
Fulham Badgers ITFC Trust DS Team
QPR Tiger Cubs Hull CIty Trust DS Team

*Hereford Bulls players were part of the younger group.

For more information on the Down's Syndrome Association, go to www.downs-syndrome.org.uk

owns Syndrome ASsociation

Premier League’s Down’s Syndrome Football Festival

dsactive_1DSActive will host the Premier League's Down's Syndrome football festival on Sunday, 20th March, 2011. The festival, which coincides with World Down's Syndrome Day on the 21st of March and Down's Syndrome Awareness Week. The festival is being funded by the Premier League as part of its successful Creating Chances programme will be held at Fulham's training ground, Motspur Park. All DSActive teams are invited to take part in the festival. We anticipate that between eight and 12 teams will take part in the festival.

The festival will be separated primarily by age: five to 12 and 13 to 25. This will ensure that the safety of each individual player and indeed the group is maintained. The younger group will take part in several fun football based activities such as ‘beat the goalie'. The older group will take part in a series of matches. More details regarding this will be provided in due course.

A group warm up will take place once each team is registered and ready to play. Following a warm up and lunch, the festival and fun activities will begin. The various games will commence, as will the tournament which will run in seven a side format with rolling substitutes. The size of the pitch and goals will match the requirements of the chosen format. Each match will last eight minutes and will be played consecutively, provided that the same team does not play twice in a row (in which case a short rest period will be enforced). The teams, depending on numbers, will be separated into between two and four groups, playing in a round-robin style format.

Following the festival, a coach education session will be held in the classroom facility at the venue. The session will be open to existing DSActive coaches and staff, potential DSActive clubs and anyone from professional football clubs in the Premier League and Football Leagues. The education will consist of Down's syndrome information training by the DSA's information team, followed by an information session on coaching people with Down's syndrome delivered by the DSActive Football Development Officer. Each participating coach/staff will receive a DSA certificate. The DSActive staff, as you may be aware, are in the process of compiling a resource for coaching people with Down's syndrome consisting of several relevant components - the first edition of this resource will be handed out to relevant personnel on the day of the festival.

To download further information about Coach Education, click here.

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