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Ethan enjoying life in Brighton's football family

17 Jul 2018

PL/BT Disability Fund and Albion in the Community helping 12-year-old play the game that he loves

Ethan Holliman will be one of the most enthusiastic participants at the Premier League & BT Disability Football Festival at the Etihad Campus in Manchester today.

"Football has had such an impact on my life, I love it so much," the 12-year-old says. "It's amazing."

The Festival celebrates how over the past 12 months the PL/BT Disability Fund has helped people to express their love of sport in greater participation.

Ethan was born with a tethered spinal cord and club foot but with the encouragement of Brighton & Hove Albion and the Disability Fund, he has been able to play on a regular basis.

He started disability football sessions run by the Albion in the Community two years ago.

"The first time I met Ethan he was a bit nervous, he wasn't quite sure what the session was going to be like," says Tyler Henshaw, disability lead coach with Albion in the Community.

Ethan, Brighton & Hove Albion
Ethan was Brighton's goalkeeper at the PL/BT Disability Football Festival

But with the Foundation's guidance, Ethan soon started to feel at home.

"Going there for the first time, I can actually keep up with these people," he says. "All the coaches are so supportive of everyone, they all help us."

Ethan's confidence has grown to the extent that he now helps other children at the sessions so they feel included, too.

"It's like a family," says Albion community coach Steve Latuske. "They get together and they just want to have fun and be part of something really special.

"Ethan is a bubbly character, and he involves other kids as well. He is a very caring boy."

And Ethan's progress has had a positive impact closer to home.

"We are extremely proud of Ethan with how he's come on," says dad Carl. "He is on a high when he comes back after a good save or his team wins.

"Seeing him play football and seeing him at tournaments, it's a fantastic feeling."

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