We first met Chloe on the first week of our sessions at Priory. Chloe was introduced to us by Jo Churchman who supports the sessions. Chloe has Downs Syndrome and so we quickly adapted the session to suit Chloe. We were quite nervous at first due to the fact that we didn’t know how the other girls would react and at first, they were very reserved and when Chloe had the ball they wouldn’t go near her.

We even got asked by one of the girls ‘What do we do when Chloe has the ball? We don’t want to tackle her’. After a couple of weeks the girls grew more comfortable with Chloe’s involvement and they have been really supportive in making sure Chloe is having fun and knows what she should be doing.

Chloe has managed to be part of the school football team and has played in matches against other schools which she has absolutely loved. It has been great for us to be able to see the growth in Chloe from week to week and the increased involvement. In the first couple of weeks Chloe would often come to us and tell us she’s tired within about 15 minutes and she’d sit down and have a chat with one of us. These breaks still occur now but they are a lot less frequent and some weeks she can participate in the entire session.

It has been inspirational to see Chloe interacting with the other girls and also to watch how she has become so much more confident in joining in, tackling other players and trying to score herself. In addition to this, it has been great to get to know Chloe. We have tried to build a positive relationship with Chloe in order to make sure she feels comfortable and safe at the sessions with us and continues to come each week.

The highlight of Chloe’s journey so far with us was when in the third week during the match play at the end of the session the ball rolled behind the goal for a goal kick. Chloe picked the ball up, put it back down on the pitch and dribbled towards the goal; all of the other girls were cheering her on and encouraging her to score. Chloe shot at the goal and it went into the bottom corner, everyone cheered and the moment that capped it all was Chloe turning round, running towards her own goal with her hand in the air, Alan Shearer style. It was a special moment for me and I think the rest of the group acted exactly how I would have liked, really encouraging, genuinely happy for Chloe and they showed what a good group of girls they are. It was the first time Chloe had scored and she talks about scoring goals every week.

Dani Burge, Premier League Girls Project Officer

Chloe is an inspirational person who is a joy to coach and her enthusiastic manner is infectious to others and us as coaches. Chloe works hard in every session and is more involved each week. She knows that if she needs a rest she can come and speak to us and she’s very good at managing her own involvement in the session. It makes me feel really happy seeing Chloe grow in confidence and ability each week.

Vicky Farleigh, SFCF Coach

Chloe is one of two Downs Syndrome students we have in school. Having Chloe participate has helped her interact with students from different year groups. The other girls in the session have been fantastic and are always very supportive. Since the start of the year, we have managed to include Chloe in some of the matches played against other schools which has also been really great for her confidence.

Jo Churchman, PE Cover Supervisor

For more information about the Premier League Girls programme - click here - or contact Project Officer, Dani Burge via email - click here