A Day For Champions

The Bedfordshire FA’s Ability Counts Academy signed off in style last Friday, with 70 players from 7 schools enjoying the occasion.

The league format was revolutionised at the start of last season, with emphasis placed on football and social development. Previously the league was decided in a traditional football format; however there were clear signs that this was not beneficial to all involved.

Ability Counts Points were therefore introduced whereby scores out of 10 were given to teams with consideration towards enjoyment, attitude, performance, sportsmanship and social skills. The results were instantly visible. Teams were mixed to create level playing fields, with the environment supportive of every single player regardless of their abilities.

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The finale day started with 2 mini-tournaments, schools split across ability levels. Teams were created by mixing all players together and games were played out as first goal wins. The football was competitive and clearly enjoyable.  The players have come along was this year.

Part 2 of the finale consisted of everyone moving inside the Peter Newton Pavilion for the league presentation, trophy ceremony and a quiz!

Special recognition was extended to the below for their continued support and passion for disability football:

- Dunstable Rotary Club
- English Schools’ Football Association
- teamBEDS&LUTON No Limits programme
- I.L. Stein Foundation
- Les Dedman (founder of the Ability Counts Leagues)

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The Bedfordshire FA would like to express our utmost appreciation for the level of support from our partners, who help make the league the best in the country.

As the presentation progressed it was then time to present the FA People’s Cup champions to the rest of the county. Cedarsfield lifted the hallowed cup after Josh Spavins declared Bedfordshire the best county for youth PAN disability football in the country. He then challenged everyone to repeat this success next year as Bedfordshire goes for a 3rd win in a row in the national competition.

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The hall was full of tension as the 2017 Academy league champions were announced. Players and staff had known the league was extremely close going into the previous date. Josh explained that it had been a pleasure to be a part of the league this season and that the final table had Weatherfield and Chiltern tied in 1st place; therefore both would be awarded the championship trophy. On this announcement the room erupted!

Josh Spavins said “2017 has been a remarkable year for youth disability football in Bedfordshire with some notable achievements. Cedarsfield stormed to the FA People’s Cup U16 Disability title and in some style! The team also won free tickets to the FA Cup Final where Ayo lifted the trophy on the pitch at half-time.

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Within the league, I couldn’t have foreseen how far the players have developed. It’s been a monumental success and we’re looking forward to further evolutions next season.”

Ability Counts Academy - League Table 2017
1st Weatherfield Academy (66 ACP)
1st Chiltern  Special School (66 ACP)
3rd St. John’s Special School & College (65 ACP)
3rd Westfield House (65 ACP)
5th Woodlands Secondary School (59 ACP)
6th Cedars Academy (57 ACP)
7th Gateway School (51 ACP)
8th Grange Academy (46 ACP)

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