Badgers Back Home after Tfrip to Hong Kong
Fulham Foundation CEO thanks supporters for fund-raising achievement
The Fulham Badgers, Fulham FC's Down's Syndrome Football Team, recently returned home from a trip to Hong Kong, where they took part in a tournament with local teams.
The pioneering trip was funded by the Fulham Football Club Foundation, Fulham FC supporters, businesses and friends and family who managed to raise over £60,000.
Stephen Day, Chief Executive of Fulham FC Foundation- the charitable arm of Fulham FC - has thanked supporters for their help, saying: " To raise over £60,000 in five months is an amazing achievement and everyone involved in this should be very proud.
" I hope that this trip will inspire others to follow our lead and continue to improve the opportunities available for young people with Down's Syndrome.
" As a Foundation, we will use this trip as a benchmark of what can be achieved and I look forward to pioneering other initiatives across our broad work areas in the near future."
The 14 young people who make up the Fulham Badgers started the week with a warm welcome to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, followed by some practical skills sessions, a dance and exercise class hosted by the Hong Kong Down’s Syndrome Association and a pottery workshop.
The second day saw the Badgers battle thirty degree heat whilst getting involved in training at the Hong Kong FC ground. The Badgers were joined in this session by the Hong Kong Dragons and Hong Kong FC Crusaders, whom they were to play in the tournament. Professional goalkeepers from Hong Kong FC also attended the session, spending valuable time with the team whilst they practised their shooting.
Day three was a more relaxed affair for the budding footballers, as they took in the sights of Hong Kong and then dined at the exclusive China Club for a lunch hosted by Sir David Tang, the President of the Hong Kong Down’s Syndrome Association.
The much-anticipated round-robin tournament took place on Day four and saw the Badgers firstly take on the HK Crusaders. Leading 2-1 for the majority of the game, the team were unfortunately beaten by two late goals and lost 3-2. The Badgers' efforts were also not enough to defeat the strong HK Dragons side that went on to win the tournament. But Down’s Syndrome football was the main winner with all sides taking part winning medals.
Steven says: "It was a great trip and some of the feedback we've had from parents has been incredible. They said the Badgers' language skills had improved because they were in an environment that meant they were speaking to their teammates. Being physically active was also a help, as was the building of confidence and self-esteem.
"The team played against the Hong Kong Crusaders and the DSA Dragons, and they loved every minute of it. With Down's, the players tend to enjoy every goal - no matter which team scores it - so there was a lot of cheering and a fantastic atmosphere."
The Badgers became the first Down's syndrome team attached to a Premier League club in 2005, after close work between Fulham FC and the Down's Syndrome Association.
Steven says: "The concept was to give the young people the chance to regularly play with a peer group they could compete and make friendships with. The foundation does work with all sorts of disabilities - be they physical disabilities or learning difficulties - and we always look to do something that can get people motivated and keep them engaged."
June 18, 2010