Helping to develop talent for FA blind football project
For the 2020/21 season, Albion in the Community is running an FA blind football project helping promising local young players develop through expert coaching with the aim of producing future internationals.
Among the players benefitting from the project is 16 year old Efe Shimwell, a regular at Albion in the Community sessions since he first joined up with the charity back in October 2016.
His dad, James Shimwell, explained what the project means to him: “Efe loves football and has been playing since he could walk.
“He started playing with Spurs and then with the FA. This was a long trip from Tunbridge Wells, so joining AITC meant he could play locally and more often. His coach also comes into his school to train him which is wonderful.”
Efe now attends regular sessions led by the charity’s team of hugely experienced coaches – something which his dad believes is really helping his son’s development. He explained: “With Albion in the Community he gets the support and direction of professional coaches in superb facilities, this has improved his technique and fitness enormously. Efe likes the experience and technical knowledge he gets from the coaches. He is also now involved with the England National Blind Football set up, so the talent pathway Albion in the Community is part of is working well.
“The dedication and professionalism of Albion in the Community’s coaches is fantastic. They are constantly looking for new ways to innovate the sessions, to introduce individual challenges to each child that enables them to develop at their own pace. They are never standing still.”
“The coaches are highly-trained but, fundamentally, all thoroughly enjoy the game and making it as inclusive and as enjoyable as possible.
“I cannot imagine Efe not playing football. Efe wants to take his football as far as he can, ultimately to represent his country. The best part for him, though, has been meeting a new group of friends who all also love football and the fun they experience in playing together.”
Prior to the lockdown Efe had started to attend a small number of the England senior training camps. Efe is hopeful that he can break into the squad one day soon and continue his development with AITC in the meantime.
England blind football manager Jonathon Pugh said about Efe “We are very proud of Efe’s quick progress through the FA blind talent pathway. From the excellent work by Albion in the community, to find such a talent and then nurture him into the England national emerging talent system. From there his journey has taken him in to the England senior men’s squad. He is a very exciting prospect, and I have no doubt that if he continues to work as hard as he is, he we’ll have an extremely bright future as and England player, and more importantly, a kind, clever and funny young man.”
To find out more about Albion in the Community’s football programme for people with a disability visit: https://www.albioninthecommunity.org.uk/disability-football