On International Day of Persons with a Disabilities, mkdons.com wishes to share two stories from the MK Dons Sport and Education Trust’s Every Player Counts programme.
The Every Player Counts programme aims to increase the number of people participating in football and increase confidence among CCO workforce on inclusion issues as well as create greater understanding of the barriers disabled people face and establis clearer pathways and better choice for volunteers and participants.
Here are the stories of Alfie Newbury and Danny Fielden and their journey with MK Dons…
Alfie Newbury’s MK Dons Journey
Alfie has been part of the MK Dons Inclusion family for many years and has developed both physically and with his maturity of the game.
His start with the MK Dons SET was cut short due to a head injury he sustained while on holiday with his family but was determined to return in the shortest time possible and had returned within three months of the injury.
Alfie has a great relationship with both players and coaches and is always willing to assist in any events that are running, even raising funds for the MK Dons SET inclusion football as well as The Princess Trust by having his much-loved haircut.
Anyone who knows Alfie, will remember how much he loved his hair and while he spent many years growing it back, he decided to have it cut in order to be sent to The Princess Trust to make wigs for girls who have been battling cancer.
Alongside this, Alfie raised funds for the MK Dons SET to assist the adult teams to buy 80 footballs, 80 training bibs and 80 cones for them to be able deliver the training that Alfie takes pride in attending.
On the pitch, he has developed well and progressed into the Championship level of play, representing the MK Dons SET Inclusion team in the FA Cup on many occasions. He has established himself as first-choice goalkeeper – a position he found himself loving through chance!
At a tournament early in his career, after the team’s goalkeeper failed to turn up, Alfie was put in goal despite being the smallest player on the team but his performances helped the team win the tournament – and, from then on, he has been between the sticks.
Alfie has an amazing sense of humour and is always willing to help when players are feeling low or need that much needed push to believe. Through lockdown, Alfie attended many Zoom meetings with teammates and made videos to keep not only himself busy but also to offer a little light entertainment for the other players within the teams. He also produced a quiz for all to enjoy.
He has been, and remains, a pleasure to have as part of the MK Dons Inclusion football and everyone at the Club is looking forward to watching his development continue.
Alfie’s family commented: “We found out about the MK Dons SET Inclusion sessions through friends and Alfie joined in 2014 when he was 13, shortly after recovering from a serious head injury.
“With the MK Dons support, Alfie has gone from being a child that really struggled at school with very few friends and interests to a confident, popular young man with lots of friends within the football community, both at the inclusion sessions and as a MK Dons season ticket holder.
“MK Dons SET have provided so many great opportunities for Alfie, including volunteering at coaching sessions & events as well as the NCS programme, which he has completed.
“For us as a family, the MK Dons SET have given us lifelong friends who understand Alfie’s issues and are there for support whenever we need it. MK Dons SET has really been a life changer for Alfie.”
Danny Fielden’s MK Dons Journey
Danny has been with the MK Dons SET inclusion since he was 11 years old. He has complex medical needs but has always had a passion for football.
He has developed and grown through from Under-12s football, maintaining his position in the squad as well as making friends and overcoming the boundaries he faces in daily life.
Danny has progressed into the Under-16s squad and is, without doubt, a role model for the players new and old - and a great advocate for the service that the MK Dons SET offer.
Through Danny’s growth in the game and enjoyment as well, his two brothers have started attending the sessions, one alongside himself in the Under-16s and one in the Under-12s.
Danny and his family attend many fundraising events for the MK Dons Inclusion programme and are Season Ticket holders and attend many of the home games.
Danny struggled through the lockdown, particularly with not being able to attend school and football training sessions and matches.
He started to isolate himself more and would often remain in his room but, with the help of MK Dons SET and, particularly, Dean Bowditch who would make him videos alongside the zoom meets, he managed to reengage and started to build back to the Danny everyone loved.
Danny has a great future ahead of him within the game of football and, despite his medical challenges, he continues to push through with determination and pride.
Danny’s family commented: “Football is a large part of our family life, as all three of our boys love to play and are all part of the inclusion programme at MK Dons.
Being part of the inclusion football, Danny has grown in confidence and made friendships that he often struggles with in the outside world. As well as the social interaction, playing football has had great impact on his physical health and ensures that he is as fit as possible to be able to manage the medical aspect of his life.
“He is fully accepted understood by the players and coaches and it makes him feel part of something. He is now one of many rather than “the only one” which is how he had always felt.
“The MK Dons SET inclusion has helped him flourish physically, mentally and socially which make us proud to be part of the work that the MK Dons SET deliver.”