‘Fantastic ambassadors’ at football club honoured at civic reception

South Tyneside Ability Football Team, players and coaches, Shaun Clark, Daniel Bettencourt, David Spraggon, Justin Laidler and Matthew Lowe, meeting the Mayor Coun Ken Stephenson and Mayoress Mrs Cathy Stephenson, at South Shields Town Hall.
South Tyneside Ability Football Team, players and coaches, Shaun Clark, Daniel Bettencourt, David Spraggon, Justin Laidler and Matthew Lowe, meeting the Mayor Coun Ken Stephenson and Mayoress Mrs Cathy Stephenson, at South Shields Town Hall.

The sporting achievements of a football club for disabled players were celebrated in a special reception with the Mayor of South Tyneside.

Hebburn-based South Tyneside Ability Football Club recently returned home with a raft of awards having represented the North Region in their first Special Olympics tournament held in Stirling, Scotland.

The Mayor and Mayoress with players Shaun Clark, Daniel Bettencourt, David Spraggon, Matthew Lone and their coach/chairman Justin Laidler.

The Mayor and Mayoress with players Shaun Clark, Daniel Bettencourt, David Spraggon, Matthew Lone and their coach/chairman Justin Laidler.

The group also recently won a Best of South Tyneside ‘Community Group of the Year’ award as well as the Durham Football Association’s Community Project of the Year.

Club members were welcomed to South Shields Town Hall by the Mayor, Coun Ken Stephenson and Mayoress, Cathy Stephenson.

Coun Stephenson said: “I was delighted to welcome the club to the town hall. They are fantastic ambassadors for the borough who show that disability is no barrier to success and that anything is possible.”

The Special Olympic winners included Matthew Lone, who secured the Silver award in Boccia. Dean Spraggon won a Gold accolade in Football. Shaun Clark and Daniel Bettencourt both secured Silver football awards.

As well as the sporting achievements, South Tyneside Ability Football Club was praised for the instrumental role it played in helping to highlight the issue of mate crime – a term used to describe physical, mental or financial abuse of people with learning disabilities by those they believe are their friends.

Justin Laidler, club chairman, said: “It was great experience for our players to meet the Mayor and have their achievements recognised in this way.”

South Tyneside Ability Football Club is based at the Hide clubhouse at Keelmans Way School in Campbell Park Road, Hebburn.