Impact of Flintshire football group coming through loud and clear

By Sported |  25 July 2023

A Flintshire father who was inspired by his football-mad deaf son to set up an inclusive junior football team has been nominated the ‘Outstanding Individuals’ section of the 2023 National Lottery Awards.

Brian Valentine established Shotton Town United Junior Football Club in 2015 after struggling to find a club that would fully meet the needs of his seven-year-old son, Dylan, as a member of the deaf community.

A Sported member, the group has grown from 12 at the outset to welcoming over 100 kids through its doors each week with the mantra that ‘every child should play’.

With help from the Barclays Community Football Fund, it has been able to offer free sessions to younger players.

While Sported’s Include project paved the way for training through Disability Sport Wales to ensure the majority of coaches, who are all volunteers, have achieved their Level 3 Disability in Training Certificate.

Boys football team lining up


“As a club, we’re proud of our deaf awareness culture as well as the opportunity to offer a fully inclusive environment in which to allow children to play football and have the benefits such as mental health and physical exercise that this can bring,” Brian said.

“Our ethos that every child should play has gained recognition with organisations such as Sported and the Football Association of Wales and has attracted much attention in the local community.

“The support of Sported this year has included assisting with funding for our free fun football programme for 11-16 years olds from Barclays. This has attracted additional funding from North Wales Police and Flintshire Council who have allowed us to extend the programme further as it has been seen as a valuable community asset. Sported have also allowed us to link in with other funders and organisations which we are collaborating with for the future.

“Sported also assisted us with Disability Wales, allowing us to participate with Disability Inclusion Training. This has ensured our coaches have further skills and understanding of disabilities, allowing them to adapt training plans and provision for inclusion where required.”

Boys football team lining up

Brian, from Shotton, Deeside, has been nominated in the National Lottery Awards for his efforts in establishing a club which ensures all children, whatever their background or ability, enjoy a proper grassroots football experience.

With the support of Lottery funding through Sport Wales, the club have also been able to buy much-needed equipment and cover the costs of further coaching courses to continue to upskill their volunteer coaches to adapt their training sessions to include members who are hard of hearing and deaf.

“Being involved in football offers so many benefits, from mental health and wellbeing to physical fitness, and we want every child to experience that,” Brian underlined. “Our motto is ‘every child should play’ and that’s an idea everyone at the clubs holds dear. I’m delighted to be nominated for a National Lottery Award and will take it as recognition for the important work the team and I do.”

During the summer, a panel made up of representatives of The National Lottery and partners from across the UK will decide the UK winners in each of the individual categories. Winners will be revealed in the autumn and will receive a £5,000 cash prize for their organisation.

Debra Barklin, Sported Wales’ National Delivery Officer, said: “We’re delighted that the brilliant work of Shotton Town has been recognised in these awards. They make a huge difference in breaking down the barriers for young people who want to play sport – and in particular, this fantastic inclusive initiative targeting the deaf community.

“Groups like theirs transform the lives of so many of our younger generation and it’s the tireless work of volunteers like Brian and his team that makes it happen.”

Added Brian: “We look forward to continuing our relationship with Sported and would recommend their services and support.”

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