The Langford Tigers have been chosen to represent the Sussex Disability Football League at the opening of Sussex County FA’s new £500,000 3G pitch by the chairman of The Football Association, Greg Dyke.
The team is made up of service users from Glen Care’s Langford Centre, which provides a secure residential care environment for people with learning difficulties, and will be the first team to play a match on the brand new, state-of-the-art artificial pitch.
The Tigers were chosen to represent the Disability League at the unveiling due to the players’ continued enthusiasm, commitment, and achievements both on and off the pitch.
The team recently organised and hosted a fundraising event at a local night spot, which raised in excess of £450 for the Disability League, and over the last few seasons have gone from strength to strength to become a force within the League, coming runners up in last year’s competition and winning it the year before having gone the entire season undefeated.
The league was originally set up in 2009 and offers the chance for those with disabilities to play competitive football on a regular basis and has grown year-on-year to incorporate 24 teams from across the Sussex area. The new 3G pitch, at Sussex County FA’s headquarters in Lancing, will stop bad weather scuppering games and, as the nights draw in, new floodlighting will allow matches to be played later in the evening.
Connie Buis, an occupational therapy assistant at the Langford Centre manages the team along with Alfie Keefe and Rebecca Ponchard, he said: “We’re extremely proud that the lads have been chosen to represent the Disability Football League and we’re grateful to the Sussex FA for inviting us along to the event.
“Everyone at the Langford Centre has been bowled over by the Tigers’ achievements in the League. We’re not just proud of their performance on the pitch, which has been outstanding, but we’re also proud of the progress we’ve seen in the players off the pitch.
“Playing in a team, playing for each other, playing within the rules and meeting other teams has been an invaluable learning tool. We’ve seen improvements in self-confidence, social skills and it has also taught the players that they must take responsibility for their actions.
“We’re looking forward to the new season starting and hope the Tigers will continue to go from strength to strength and bring the trophy home again this season.”
Sussex Disability League chairman, Tony Kybett, added: “We chose the Langford Tigers to represent the league because we feel that they epitomize all that is good about this form of football.
“Seeing them participate in our national game is what the league is all about. Long may they continue to enjoy every minute with their teammates, coaches and supporters.
“They have continued to show their love for the game by proactively organising fundraising events on our behalf, these much needed funds will benefit every team in the league.
“We are grateful to the Sussex County F.A. for inviting us to be involved at a prestigious event at the home of Sussex football, delighted to have Langford Tigers represent us and is our way of saying thank you to them.”