A GROUP of football fans got the chance to take to the pitch with professionals for a special training session.
The 17 footballers were joined by Hartlepool United players, Andy Monkhouse, Sam Collins, Scott Flinders, Steven Haslam and Neil Austin, for the session at East Durham College in Peterlee, as part of the Every Player Counts programme.
The project is a community scheme run by Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation, The Football League, The New Football Pools and the Durham FA. It aims to support disability groups and teams in the area and increase participation of males and females, over 16 years of age, with a range of disabilities.
Organiser Nikki O’Donnell, disability football fevelopment ffficer with Durham FA, said: “The project supports the development of male and female footballers with physical, sensory or learning disabilities in the county.
“The players on the scheme receive coaching on a weekly basis leading to a five-a-side league - with progression routes onto the North East Ability Counts League.”
The scheme also aims to help identify people to become FA qualified coaches and referees with links to the junior and adult disability league to help with training and officiating.
Hartlepool United defender Steven Haslam, 32, said: “It was a real privilege for me to be involved in the coaching and I hope it can happen again soon.”
East Durham College is one of six venues in the North East that support the scheme.
In December the Every Player Counts scheme will hold a festival event at Durham Soccarena, where participants from the East Durham College training session will play against the other five venues.