KERNOW Football Alliance have announced details of an imminent fundraising campaign with the goal of promoting and continuing the amazing journey of our inclusive team, writes Tom Howe.
The project has successfully created a group atmosphere where people with pan disabilities can come together as one family, embracing the Cornish motto ‘Onen Hag Oll’ (One and All), to play football and break down barriers that have been put in front of them.
Concentrating on abilities, rather than disabilities, the inclusive – and as yet unbeaten – team have enjoyed a tremendous couple of years, with players stepping out of their comfort zones to visit the likes of LaLiga Genuine in Tenerife and Belfast for the George Best Community Cup.
Their success on the pitch has been nothing short of remarkable, but the true signifier of the project’s accomplishments are the off-the-pitch advancements and empowerment in tackling mental health, unemployment, social isolation and so much more.
Simon York, director of inclusion at Kernow Football Alliance, said: “The Crowdfunder itself is really raising money to continue this journey. We’ve got ideas in place and plans to go back to Belfast this year, as well as continuing our links with LaLiga Genuine. We’re going into new countries and building relationships further afield, including in Germany and even New Zealand now as well.
“It’s also to be able to buy equipment and put foundations in place so that we can bring more people into the group and really strengthen our bond with the community. It’s the projects that we do outside of football that mean the most, getting people prepared for work, doing degrees and really cementing what people can do off the pitch as well as on it. Making them the best person they can be and fulfilling their full potential.
“The lads are very proud of what they’ve achieved so far but this is really only scratching the surface. We’ve got a long, long way to go and we’re building on the success we’ve already had. We came from playing local teams, like South West Cerebral Palsy, to going up to Doncaster and playing in one of the biggest competitions in the UK.
"We came away as double champions and did the same at Crystal Palace. We are passionate about strengthening the Cornish brand, the Kernow brand and the identity of Kernow, not just locally or nationally within the UK but internationally as well. We’re putting Cornish passions and values out into the world.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we’re trying to do in and for Cornwall. We need the community behind us now more than ever to engage in doing more community projects for the benefit of local charities, local businesses and local people.”
Kernow Football Alliance was formed in 2018 to build an inclusive international football team to share and celebrate Cornish culture around the world, playing under the umbrella of The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA).
The five-year journey has not only endeared community and cultural development but has helped bring tourism, revenue and innovation to Cornwall, using the power of football as the primary tool to kickstart impactful conversations and real change.
York continued: “We’ve cemented ourselves within the world of pan disability sport. We’re not just about players with cerebral palsy, or players that are deaf or blind, which is what a lot of the Football Associations concentrate on. We’re talking about all disabilities and really cementing that to say you can come and play, and join our family, too.
“This money will not just change the lives of our players but the community as well. We plan to go into schools and other football clubs, building that connection to showcase Cornwall, break down barriers and really highlight what disability football is all about. We want to bring more players into the team, too. We’ve got 16, 17 and 18-year-olds that were on the cusp last year who are now joining our men’s team and we want to build on this.
“The lads are loving it and are all looking forward to supporting the campaign with their own fundraising activities. They’re putting ideas in place of how they can raise money themselves individually, as well as as a team, and to go deep into the community to see what they can do to help out and really bring everyone together.
“The way the community has got behind us already is superb. Taking the football away from it, there are businesses out there and people that have got excellent brands. There are fantastic people in Cornwall that we would like to shine a light on. It’s about bringing together collective minds to showcase what Cornwall is all about and the money raised in this campaign will help us achieve this.
“Please view our campaign, to look at what we’ve achieved and what we plan to do, as well as to watch our incredible fundraising video. That embraces what Kernow Football Alliance is all about, with real people talking about life changing events and the enhancements made in their self-worth.”
York concluded: “I see the players every single day, becoming more positive about the outcomes in their own lives. I want to say a big thank you to everyone within Cornwall and in all of the places we’ve been to; to all the teams that have said please come back and play us. That’s lovely because it’s showcasing what disability football is all about.
"The reason they’re doing this is because of the fact that we’ve got so many people behind us in Cornwall who are so passionate about what we’re doing. I want to say a big thank you to the team too because they make it worthwhile for me.
“I’ve loved football and coaching for years but this is the one place that I actually feel that I am appreciated. I’m wanted and I’m part of something. I’m part of a family that you know is only going to grow and get better, not just on the pitch but off it too. Just one pound would go a long way so please don’t feel that you’re not contributing or anything like that at all. Please help us to help Cornwall as a whole, to celebrate inclusivity and the power of connection. Thank you.”
For more information, shareable links, contacts and a range of different ideas on how you can get involved, donate or show your support for Kernow Football Alliance, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/the-unbeatables---kernow-fas-dream-journey.