On Sunday, 2nd April 2023 we welcomed Ascot United Warriors, a team of footballers aged from 18-39 yrs who are affiliated with Special Olympics GB. The Ascot Racecourse Supports community programme is sponsoring the kit this season for the players who have learning disabilities including Autism, Downs Syndrome and Dyspraxia. They travel from as far as Farnham, Camberley, Bracknell and Reading for training every Sunday evening at Ascot United FC.
Their first ever competitive match took place on 26th March when they took on St Albans Special Olympic team achieving a 7-5 win, with their Captain scoring 4 wonderful goals; the first from the half-way line!
Donna Molyneux, whose son Brett Edge plays for the team, is the driving force behind the success of the initiative, supported by Ascot United and it’s chairman Simon Negus. The football club also sourced FA funding for coach Jake Perry to help the team for the first season, who travels from West London each Sunday to coach the team.
Donna said, “Jake had not trained adults with special needs before and his calm and encouraging persona has had a huge impact on the team. For the parents of the young men this has been tremendous, as they see their sons now engaging with their peers on and off the field and learning new skills which keep them fit and healthy and give them an avenue to form new friendships. We find that once their educational journey has ended at school, they struggle to gain employment and are often at home alone playing on their computer or watching TV. This team has provided the boys with a purpose. I have seen the confidence grow both in their footballing skills, but perhaps more importantly, their social and emotional skills as they feel safe and comfortable together in this very special team.”
In their honour, we named our 1.50pm race “The Ascot Racecourse Supports Ascot United Warriors Maiden Hurdle” with players given the privilege of picking the best turned out horse alongside presenting trophies to winning connections.
The team are keen for new players to join and if you are male, aged 18+ and have a recognised learning disability, then you would be welcome to come along on a Sunday evening at 5pm to Ascot United. The team are also looking for additional sponsors. For more information, please contact Ascot United directly: [email protected]united.co.uk