How Aston Villa’s Ability Counts became Evy’s ‘second family’
It was curling up on the sofa to watch Premier League matches with her father that gave Evy Young a love of the beautiful game.
She said, “I instantly became an Aston Villa supporter like my dad and was really keen to play football myself.”
But finding the right club wasn’t a straightforward task for the 20-year-old from Sheldon in East Birmingham. That’s because she has a learning disability and autism, as well as scoliosis – which causes curvature of the spine – and hyper-mobility, which brings joint issues and pain.
Evy’s mum Ruth already knew how difficult it can be to find a club for a child with a disability, having gone through the process with her son Jack who has ADHD and autism. Luckily, one of Ruth’s friends told her about Ability Counts, Aston Villa’s disability football division.
Evy, who was 9 when she visited Ability Counts for the first time, knew instantly she’d found the right club. She said, “I was hooked straight away. Now the team is like a second family to me.”
Thanks to National Lottery players, over £50Million has been raised for women’s football over the past 10 years. In 2018, National Lottery funding enabled Aston Villa to establish 4 new disability teams, providing inclusive, accessible football for disabled people from the age of 6 through to adults of all ages.
Nowadays, Evy visits Ability Counts 3 times a week and is working towards her coaching badges. Her proud mum says the club’s approach has helped her daughter both on and off the pitch.
Ruth said, “The consistency of the staffing at Ability Counts has been brilliant. It’s good for our kids to see the same people all the time. It helps them build confidence and learn to trust people.
“[Evy's] just come on so far. When we first took her she was really struggling with her coordination and her balance. Now, she just goes straight out there and bosses her teammates around. It’s just great to see."
Ruth added, “Ability Counts FC is special. It’s helped so many kids and you can see the transformation. When they first come along they’re not very talkative or confident. At the end of a few sessions, it’s like they’ve known each other all their lives. They support and stick up for each other. The bonding is incredible.”
26th July 2023
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