West Sussex Brighton fans’ club make charity donation

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A Brighton & Hove Albion supporters club has donated money to the club’s official charity which will help fund new kit for elite disabled players.

North West Sussex Seagulls (NWSS) ferries three coachloads of Albion fans to the American Express Community Stadium for every home game - coming from Horsham and the surrounding area.

The coaches are run on a not-for-profit basis and at the end of every season any surplus cash is donated to local charities.

In recent months members have donated money to fund a public access defibrillator in Billingshurst and paid for equipment for junior football teams in Southwater and Broadbridge Heath.

And having approached the Seagulls’ official charity, Albion in the Community (AITC) with an offer of funding, NWSS agreed to donate £580 to cover the cost of training kit for players attending a new regional talent centre.

AITC was recently awarded a pair of FA licenses to deliver two FA Disability Regional Talent Centres -one for partially sighted and deaf players and the other for blind footballers.

Both centres run for 22 weeks and AITC will work closely with Sussex FA to identify top local players and help them develop their talents with the end goal of players progressing to the national team.

Having heard about the new centres, NWSS members were only too pleased to help. Members of the club’s committee attended the disability centre launch event and handed a cheque to Matt Francis, an Albion powerchair player who has been training with the England team.

Andy Stonestreet, the club’s chairman, said: “Being Brighton fans we are all aware of the excellent job Albion in the Community does and it is great to be able to help.

“The new FA Disability Regional Talent Centres sound fantastic. It was lovely to meet Matt and hear about his England experience. Hopefully the new centres will help more local disabled players reach the England team. To be able to help – even in a small way by paying for some kit – is a pleasure.”

Paul Brackley has been heading up the new talent centres for AITC and said the charity was grateful for the donation. He said: “For the charity to be awarded these licenses is massive news for AITC and disabled sport in the area. It means the Albion are one of only three clubs in the entire south to run the centres for the FA.

“The equipment can, however, be expensive, so the donation from North West Sussex Seagulls is hugely-appreciated. Our thanks go to all their members.”

Report and picture contributed by Richard Morris.