Archives for July 2015

CPFC Foundations First Mental Health Wellbeing Tournament


The Crystal Palace Foundation firsts Mental Health Wellbeing Tournament ran in the CPFC Academy Dome on Friday 24th July. Seven teams joined us to compete in a safe, friendly and fun environment that saw some great football and gave an often overlooked alienated area of our Community an opportunity not to be missed.

Football, and other physical activities, are crucial for people who have had mental health issues, helping them keep fit and feel part of something, whilst providing a social environment with likeminded people.

Michael Harrington, the Foundations Disability Officer, a post supported by the Premier League/Professional Footballers Association, hosted the tournament with our partners Active Minds who are the go to Charity for people living in Croydon with Mental Health issues and the Surrey FA.

Teams representing a range of Mental Health Charities and Organizations from across London and Surrey were our guests. This included Status Employment, which assists people with disabilities and mental health problems in finding and retaining paid employment, a South London and Maudsley Project in Lambeth, St Mungo’s in King’s Cross who help people recover from the issues that create homelessness and to rebuild their lives, and National Mind

This broad range of service providers really highlighted the great work that is done in our local communities to allow people with mental health issues to feel part of our community and to be able to gain greater independence and direction in their lives.

The tournament was a great success, with the Brixton Pumas running out winners in the final against our very own Croydon Eagles. A special mention must go the Super Saints from St Mungo’s in Kings Cross who were voted the days Sports Team winners for the great attitude and sportsmanship they showed throughout the day.

John O’Malley, from the Surrey FA Football Development Team who was on hand to ref one of the group stages, had the following to say about the day ‘I was very impressed with the overall standard of play today. The whole tournament ran smoothly and allowed all players a great chance to come and enjoy themselves whist making new friends’

The ‘Croydon Eagles’ football team were set up as part of the partnership work between Mind Croydon the Crystal Palace FC Foundation – the charity of Premier League side Crystal Palace FC.

The team run weekly football training and physical activity sessions in the Crystal Palace FC Academy Dome at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre complex, we also play in the Surrey Community League, a league run by the Surrey FA and local charities working within the mental health community.

To discuss our Mental Health program, or any other area of our Disability work, please contact our Disability Officer Michael Harrington at or call him on 020 8768 6052.



Richard Fitzsimmons Story


Richard Fitzsimmons is a 26 year old man with Down’s Syndrome who lives in Croydon with his family. Richard is a participant on the Crystal Palace FC Foundation’s Learning Disability football project and has been with us for almost a year now.

Richard grew up and went to mainstream schools in Croydon, where he didn’t feel that his Down’s Syndrome presented him with any additional personal challenges that made his life more difficult. However it was how he was treated by those around him that had a negative and lasting effect on him. Richard was bullied when he was younger because of his condition. This resulted in him not feeling comfortable to speak out when things upset him and had a negative impact on his self-esteem and well-being.

When all the siblings had finished school Richard’s family moved to Spain, an experience that Richard liked as the weather was so much better then back at home! After 3 years the family returned to the Croydon area where Richard found that there were limited opportunities for him to actively participate in a wide range of sporting activities that interested him. He was able to play football with his brothers but he found this a bit limiting and often it would be outdoors in cold, wet locations with not a great deal of space.

Richard’s family made contact with Croydon Mencap who were able to direct Richard to, and support him in, the types of sporting activities that he craved. Due to the past negative experiences Richard had as a child he still had difficulties with social mobility and interacting with people.

Richard began to attend weekly football training sessions delivered by the CPFC Foundation in partnership with the Premier League/Professional Footballers Association, Special Olympics Great Britain and Croydon Local Authority. He loved these sessions from the start and appreciated the indoor facilities and the large playing space. Richard feels this has helped him to become fitter and leaner, whilst improving himself as a footballer. Richard loves to play attacking football, he is a Man U fan who idolises David Beckham, and he really enjoys scoring, and making, goals for his team mates.

Richard would encourage anyone who is in a similar situation to him to come along to these sessions and give them a try because they will love the company and the football. He now feels far more confident in his everyday life and is able to speak out about situations that affect him as he feels that he will now be listened to. He feels more relaxed now, has a greater sense of well-being and has learnt not to let people bring him down.

Richard says that there is nothing similar to this in his local area and that he is pleased that this is being run by a Premiership Football Club. Even better for him is that this is his local club, as he has always looked out for Palace’s results.

The Crystal Palace Foundation are constantly reaching out to vulnerable people of all ages that need a helping hand to find people similar to themselves. We give these people a way of expressing themselves in an environment they feel comfortable in and a chance to engage with people who might have similar experiences to them. Importantly, these programmes are a way to give participants an enjoyable and happy experience, meet new people, learn new skills and play some football along the way.

This project, fronted by Michael Harrington, Foundation Disability Officer, has given Richard a new lease of life and a big step into an accommodating community.

If you know of anyone who shares a similar story to Richard, or are interested in being involved in one of our sessions, please get in touch with Michael Harrington at the Foundation:

Vision Impaired Football at the Foundation


The Crystal Palace FC Foundation has formed a partnership with the Royal London Society for the Blind which see’s us deliver weekend clubs for blind and partially sighted children and young people across South London & Surrey. This new initiative has grown from the overwhelming demand from the blind and partially sighted community for access to regular, local sporting activities. Both the RLSB, through their Sports Without Limits program, and the CPFC Foundation are at the forefront of Disability sports provision and share a common belief that every disabled person should have the opportunity to benefit from the physical and social aspects that sport can uniquely offer.

These weekend sport clubs run monthly in the main sports hall of the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, where you can learn new skills, gain confidence and improve your fitness. Run by CPFC Foundation coaches, who are experienced in adapting sports activities for blind and partially sighted children and young people, these clubs are open to everyone aged 12-25 with any level of experience.
Here you will have the opportunity to not only take part in a wide range of different sports but will also be able to make new friends, gain confidenceand challenge yourself!

All members of our weekend sports clubs will be offered the chance of completing a Sports Personal Action Plan in which you can let us know if you would like to take part in a specific sport or physical activity, both mainstream and VI clubs, and we will work with our extensive partners to find and support you in your choices.

To discuss our VI program, or any other area of our Disability work, please contact our Disability Officer Michael Harrington at or call him on 020 8768 6052.

Briggs Bags Surrey FA Board Spot


We are delighted to acknowledge that our very own Community Development Director, Soye Briggs, is leading the way in terms of diversity and inclusion among our wider boroughs and is setting a precedent for all FA boards to follow suit.

Soye is a recent beneficiary of the FA backed ‘On The Board’ initiative and has been elected onto the board of the Surrey County FA in recognition of this.

The scheme, which equips predominantly Black and Asian former footballers with the skillset to sit on football boards, is run by the Governance Forum, supported by the football bodies.

Soye has always been passionate about endorsing equality and diversity with the Crystal Palace FC Foundation, promoting inclusion among the boroughs we work in and more broadly among the wider footballing world. This is reflected in the programmes and schemes of work the Community Development team deliver across South London and will continue to be forefront in our thinking for the future.



Crystal Palace Academy tour Ireland


The Crystal Palace FC Under 18’s Academy pre-season tour is soon to embark upon Ireland, revisiting Ballina Town and Mayo, where the Crystal Palace FC Foundation recently held a series of training/coaching camps.

The U18s squad will undertake a weeklong training camp in Ballina, which will include matches vs Sligo Rovers Under 19’s and Ballina Town FC first team, at Beleek Park, home of Ballina Town FC.

The tour follows on from the continuing relationship the Crystal Palace FC Foundation has established in Ireland over the past two years and represents CPFC’s wider commitment to our overseas communities and networks.
Part of the Foundation’s work has included coach education programmes in Northern Ireland, youth participation projects in both Belfast and Co. Mayo and an elite training camp at Ballina Town FC in July 2015.

The Crystal Palace FC Foundation ambassador for our work in Ireland is former Republic of Ireland International and ex-Palace star Eddie McGoldrick, who has been accompanied by UEFA A Licence coach and Sports Development Director, Gary Mulcahey.

As part of the ongoing relationship with Ballina Town and to further develop local grassroots football the CPFC u18 squad will coach local youngsters in the afternoon with the help and experience of Ballina Town FC coaches and the charity Active Communities Network.
Ben Smith, CPFC Academy Manager, commented: “Following the elite training camp earlier this month for players in Ireland and Northern Ireland, the excellent facilities provided and the very welcoming atmosphere we received from Ballina Town FC, I am very much looking forward to taking our under 18’s for a high quality pre-season in Ireland. The CPFC Foundation has given the club an excellent platform to work from in the region, and this opportunity demonstrates how the various parts of the club work together to benefit CPFC. I am also looking forward to seeing a few of our supporters from the Irish Eagles at the matches following their support in Ballina earlier this month.”
David Groves, Chair of Trustees, Crystal Palace FC Foundation, said: “The relationship we have with our friends in Ireland is flourishing and represents the ongoing movement of the Club to develop meaningful partnerships across seas. It secondly demonstrates the community value that the Foundation brings to the Crystal Palace FC family and cements our philosophy of ‘one club, one community’. On behalf of the Foundation, I would like to thank the local clubs, charities and supporters in Ireland and Northern Ireland who have worked with us over the past two years and look forward to continuing this positive partnership in the future.”