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05 January 2024

How football is helping Adam make friends

How football is helping Adam make friends

Adam Eke, 11, is part of the Foundation’s disability football programme, joining in with junior football sessions at Falmer every Saturday morning.

He is one of hundreds of people with a disability who play football at a BHAFC Foundation session every single week.

“He’s an energetic boy and he’s very interested in sport,” says dad Tony.

“And I think probably with his autism, he struggled a little bit at school with mainstream football, getting involved with children there because they regarded him as a little bit different.”

Adam is a huge Albion fan – he goes to almost every home game with his dad – and he loves to play too.

Sadly, Adam found it difficult to find a place in mainstream football.

“His motor coordination isn’t brilliant and he has little language difficulties, which causes him to get anxious as well,” Tony says.

“So he felt like he didn’t really fit in there. He wanted to play, but, you know, he found it hard. And so we came to the Foundation and it’s been brilliant for him. It’s really something he really looks forward to.

“It’s been a big boost to him because he really loves his football, he really does. The Foundation enables him to participate in football – in training sessions and in games.”

Adam has now been playing football with the Foundation for three years.

His dad says that, where Adam struggled with anxiety surrounding football before, that is no longer the case.

“People with his condition, they can get very anxious,” he said, “And anything that’s slightly different, they’re kind of reluctant to take part in.

“But that’s not the case with what they’re offering with the Foundation. It’s helped him no end.”

One of the most important parts of football for Adam is the social side. Through playing, Adam has made some great friends and met some amazing people.

“It’s been great for him. I’m very happy for him, he enjoys playing. It helps him socially. It’s very important for kids, making friends, and he looks forward to turning up and meeting the boys he sees every Saturday. It relaxes him, and helps him overcome all sorts of things.

“Sometimes in mainstream football, he hasn’t always found it easy to make friends at school, because they regard him as slightly different to them, you see. That doesn’t exist at all in with the football he gets with the Foundation.

“I think he plays quite a prominent part on a Saturday morning, and he’s improving, it improves his confidence generally. He really looks forward to it.”

Phil Broom, Disability Football Lead at the Foundation, says he is very proud of how much Adam has developed over the past three years.

“Adam has really come on leaps and bounds, as a young man and as a footballer, since he joined us three years ago.

“He’s made loads of friends with us and you can see he’s absolutely in love with football. He’s full of energy and he always brings that on a Saturday morning.”

Adam Eke, 11, and his dad Tony have both been given tickets to the EFL Trophy third round tie against Reading next Tuesday (January 9), which will be played by the Albion Men’s Under-21 side.

As a mega Seagulls fan, Adam was naturally buzzing to have the chance to watch the EFL Trophy match.

“He normally comes with me on a weekend to watch the first team, but he really wanted to go to this game because he follows the Under-21s, so he’s delighted to have this chance,” Tony said.

Find out more about our disability football programme.


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