Aldershot Town were special guests at Farnham’s Abbey School yesterday, to enjoy a thrilling final in the annual Ian Wooldridge Memorial Football Competition For Children With Special Needs.
Nine teams entered the tournament, with home side Abbey FC eventually beating Basingstoke’s Dove House 2-1 in extra time in a final which also saw a saved penalty and a hotly-debated goal-line clearance.
The trophy, a replica of the FA Cup, was presented by Thandi Wooldridge, widow of Children with Special Needs Foundation patron Ian.
Other entrants included Woking’s Park School, St Phillip’s School from Chessington, Philip Southcote School from Addlestone and Farnborough’s Samuel Cody School.
Commercial Manager and all-time record goalscorer Mark Butler presented the winning team with a signed Shots shirt, with the Club also donating free tickets to a forthcoming home game to all participating schools.
The Abbey School is a strong and vibrant special school with places for just over 100 students aged 11-16 years who have learning difficulties and additional needs. More than one in three of their students have a diagnosis of autism. The school has fit-for-purpose accommodation which is maintained to a high standard and was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted inspection accreditations in July 2009, July 2012 and, most recently, July 2016.
A second tournament, for older age-groups, will be held at Abbey School next month, with The Shots again in attendance.
“It was a fantastic tournament with some great football,” enthused Butler. “The final, in particular, was an incredible game. All the players played with a smile on their face but every match was hugely competitive. It was a pleasure to be a small part of the day and I can’t wait to come back in April.”