Sunderland AFC directors Stuart Donald and Charlie Methven laced up their football boots to help raise awareness of footballers with disabilities.
The pair joined Mayoral Consort – and FA Cup legend – Micky Horswill to take on a team from South Tyneside Ability Football Club.
The match took place at the newly-opened Beacon of Light, Foundation of Light’s community facility, yesterday.
Mr Horswill organised the match after learning about the work of South Tyneside Ability Football Club when he meet Justin Laidler and his son Shaun, 30, who has learning difficulties, at the Stadium of Light.
Justin helps run the South Tyneside Ability Football Club, based in Hebburn, where Shaun is one of 110 players aged from three to 53 years old who train every week – representing nine teams in leagues across the country.
The game aimed to help raise awareness of disabled football and the achievements of players like Shaun, who represents the Northern Area (England) at the Special Olympics.
Mr Horswill was joined by a team of former professional players including Gary Bennett, Darren Holloway and Peter Stronach, as well as Sunderland AFC directors Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven in the match.
Mr Horswill said: “I met Shaun and Justin at the Stadium of Light, and discovered what Shaun had to overcome to find the opportunities to play football, and then train and develop his talents to go on to play for the Northern Area (England) at the Special Olympics.
“As a former professional footballer who played at the highest level, I know the hard work and commitment involved and how remarkable Shaun and his team-mate’s achievements are.
“I hope this game will help to highlight the opportunities out there for people with individual challenges and medical conditions to play football, and maybe even play for their country like Shaun.”
Mr Laidler from South Tyneside Ability Football Club added: “It’s great that as Mayoral Consort, Micky is helping us to raise local awareness of disabled football.
“It’s not only training, we have disabled people of all of all ages playing in competitive matches across the country often appearing on the same pitches Sunderland play away matches at, before the game or at half- time.
“I hope this match will help encourage many other families to come forward to get involved.”