Adam Williams is a 14 year old youngster from South Croydon living with Autism and as a result has had past struggles with controlling his anger and emotions.
Adam is a participant on the Crystal Palace FC Foundation’s Learning Difficulty football programme and has been with us since September 2014. He attends Bensham Manor School; a special secondary school catering for students aged 11-18 in Thornton Heath.
Before he started coming to our coaching sessions, which are run in partnership with the Croydon Sustainable Communities Team, Adam did not participate in much sport and had little interest in football.
His ongoing challenges trying to control his anger and emotions often led to confrontations at school and at home.
Adam told us a little more about how his Autism affects him and coming to the weekly football sessions have helped him:
“I like coming, it’s really good, I get upset with losing and this helps me not get upset even if I lose. I want to be both a good winner and a good loser. My friends are here and my mum likes me to come here. I mostly like to get on with all the boys here and I like most of the coaches. I have learnt that if I am nice to other players then they will be nice to me.”
Adam has really improved his footballing ability and is now part of the School football team setup, which included representing CPFC in a London FA Futsal tournament at the Copperbox in the Olympic Park.
When asked what advice he would give to other young people who were thinking of attending one of the Foundation’s sessions Adam said:
“If anyone has anger or emotions that need to be controlled I am pretty sure that Crystal Palace Football Club is the right place for them.”
Paul Funnel, Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Lead Officer for the Croydon Local Authority’s Early Intervention and Support Service, gives us his insight into Adam’s journey and the key role CPFC Foundation have played in this:
“Adam’s progress is a good result of continued partnership work between Croydon’s Sustainable Communities team, The CPFC Foundation and Croydon’s Disability youth project. I have seen a change in Adam’s confidence and a massive improvement in the amount of physical activity he does on a regular basis. This has also helped him to better understand teamwork and working with others.”
The Crystal Palace Foundation is constantly reaching out to vulnerable people of all ages that need a helping hand to find people of similar background.
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.
Robin Barwick, Assistant Head/Head of Key Stage 4 at Bensham Manor School, offers us his insight:
“Since Adam has been taking part in sessions with CPFC Foundation there have been clear benefits socially, physically and in his specific football ability. Adam has matured into a team player who supports others, especially those less able than he is.
He has also learned to accept that satisfaction should come from how well you have played rather than simply whether you have won or lost. His understanding of the game has improved and he is prepared to play in different positions to meet the needs of his team.
In other lessons and in break times at school Adam is more settled and calm. This may be because he seems less anxious and more confident. His developing maturity derived from his success in sport is valuable at this stage in his school career where Adam is preparing for exams, work experience and eventually, transition to College.”
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 Adam a new lease of life and a big step into an accommodating community.
If you know of anyone who shares a similar story to Adam, or are interested in being involved in one of our sessions, please get in touch with Michael Harrington at the Foundation: MichaelHarrington@cpfcfoundation.org