Building Colby’s confidence to play football
Albion in the Community (AITC) now runs more than 30 football sessions for people with a disability.
Among its regular sessions are those that take place as part of a regional talent hub that it delivers on behalf of the FA. Aimed at promising young players who have cerebral palsy, a visual impairment or who are deaf, the FA Talent Hub provides expert coaching to potential future internationals.
Last season 25 players attended AITC’s FA Talent Hub across two age groups: 7-11-year-olds, and 12-16-year-olds. As well as the fortnightly training sessions, players also compete in games against local mainstream teams and other talent hubs from across the country.
Colby Martin is a fantastic example of the positive impact the programme is having on young people here in Sussex. He has been involved in the FA Talent Hub for the last two seasons and his mum Michelle Martin was full of praise for the programme and AITC.
She said: “He absolutely loves the sessions. He has always been interested in football, but has always lacked the confidence to play.
“Since joining the AITC programme his confidence has gone through the roof. Now he plays football six days a week, which is every boy’s dream!
“His confidence at school has really improved too. His teachers have said since he’s started doing the sessions the change is amazing – he’ll talk in class now and he wasn’t confident enough to do that before as well.
“Socially he’s so different and confident now and it’s improved his life so much.
“It’s all come from the sessions and it’s absolutely amazing. I can’t emphasise the change in him enough.”
Colby isn’t the only player to impress at the FA Talent Hub. Last season saw a record number of players progress from the AITC hub to the next level on the national talent pathway – the Regional Emerging Talent Programme (RETP).
In total, 13 players were invited to train in the RETP, with Faye Williams also being invited onto the National Emerging Talent Programme.
It is certainly an opportunity that Colby’s mum would fully recommend others explore.
“My message to parents and families who have children with similar disabilities would be to do absolutely go for it,” she said. “It changes lives.
“Colby used to feel he couldn’t do these things. Now he sees he’s no different and enjoys life like any other child. It’s fantastic.”
For more information on AITC’s sessions for people with a disability email: firstname.lastname@example.org.