A POPULAR Colchester United Community Foundation football programme that gives adults with mental or physical disabilities the chance to take part in free weekly sessions has received a major cash boost.

A £10,000 grant from the Sky Bet EFL Foundations Fund will support the Foundation (CUCF) – the U’s official charity partner - in continuing the football programme in 2024 and will send four of their coaches on a UEFA C course, enabling them to lead sessions independently.

The CUCF started running a free to access weekly pan-disability football session for adults aged 18 and over last summer and has since engaged more than 30 adults with disabilities in physical activity.

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CUCF Head of Health and Inclusion at Colchester United Ed King said: “The adult pan-disability programme came about because we had feedback from the community that there was a lot of activities in the area for people under 16, but after that there isn’t much out there.

“This gave us a chance to create an inclusive environment for adults with physical or mental disabilities and we are delighted that through the Building Foundations funding we can continue for another year.”

Programme participant Chris Eldred said: “The sessions have a real good buzz about them and hearing the funding has been extended is a great relief.

“I know a lot of us rely on these sessions not only for our physical health but to have a real positive impact on our mental health.

“Meeting the players is just a cherry on top as they are always so nice and approachable.”


The cash boost is part of more than £600,000-worth of vital funding announced by Sky Bet and the EFL via the first set of grants from the new Sky Bet EFL Building Foundations Fund.

Vital financial support will flow to projects linked to more than 60 EFL clubs, ranging from programmes to tackle isolation and loneliness, to improving fitness and mental health, increasing participation in sports or to invest in better football facilities for the local area.

The Building Foundations Fund was launched last year with Sky Bet committing to invest a bumper £6 million over six years as part of its record title partner extension with the EFL.

A panel including talkSPORT Breakfast Show host and Sky Bet ambassador Jeff Stelling assess the bids.

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To kick-start the fund in 2023-2024, each EFL Club Community Organisation (CCOs) was given access to an initial £10,000 to invest in ongoing programmes or to develop new community initiatives.

For season one – 2023/24 – the Fund made an initial £10,000 available to every club with the residual amount awarded on a competitive basis.

In each of the following seasons, club CCOs will be able to bid for funding – with grants ranging in size from £5,000 to £100,000.

Successful applicants will have to target activity towards programmes that engage with adults (over 18s).