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Rochdale AFC Ability Counts - Participant Stories

5 April 2022

During the EFL's Week of Action, which showcases work done by Community Trust's across the country, we'll be taking a look at some of the work done by Rochdale AFC Community Trust, starting with their fantastic Ability Counts teams.

Rochdale AFC Ability Counts are Rochdale AFC Community Trust’s pan-disability team, catering for individuals with a wide range of disabilities and additional needs. All sessions are fully accessible and inclusive, and the Community Trust pride themselves on adapting their sessions so that anyone can take part.

The Community Trust hold sessions for children, young people and adults, from age five through to adulthood.

If you’d like to find out more about our pan-disability sessions, contact Charlotte on, or visit our website

Read more about two Rochdale AFC Ability Counts participant’s below:


One youngster who has benefitted tremendously from the sessions is 11-year-old Hayden.

Hayden joined the Ability Counts sessions back in December 2021 after trialling for his school football team in the September and unfortunately not making the team.

This didn’t stop him, though, and Hayden has been turning up to training consistently week after week since December, giving his all at every session.

In February 2022, Hayden was given the opportunity to play as part of our Ability Counts squad at a tournament against other North West clubs, including the likes of Oldham, Manchester United and Manchester City. With a fantastic record winning five, drawing one, and losing just once, Hayden’s confidence was on the up, and he was thriving in the team environment.

Last Friday, the opportunity to trial for the school team came around again, and with increased confidence and fine-tuned football skills, Hayden went for it again, and we are all delighted that it paid off for him! Hayden was selected for the school team at Spotland Primary, where he’s able to play alongside his friends against other local school teams.

Hayden said: “I feel very good about it, very good. A big thanks to my teacher and to Coach Liam for training me.”

Charlotte Griffiths, Health and Inclusion Coordinator at Rochdale AFC Community Trust added: “We’re so proud of Hayden and how far he’s come in such a short space of time. He’s a joy to have at the sessions, always really focused and giving 100% to anything that’s asked of him.

“When he found out on Friday that he been selected to play for his school team, he ran straight over to Liam to tell him. He was so excited!

“It’s a privilege to be able to deliver pan-disability sessions, to give children that extra boost and show them that anything is possible – and Hayden has certainly taken that away from the sessions.”

Huge congratulations to Hayden, on behalf of Rochdale AFC and Rochdale AFC Community Trust!

Hayden was mascot at Dale’s League One fixture vs Swindon Town at the weekend and is pictured below, walking out onto the pitch wide midfielder Liam Kelly.



Jamie (pictured below) has been part of the Ability Counts Open Age team for over 17 years and he is amazingly committed to the team.

He scored his first league goal on Friday evening, and everyone at Rochdale Football Club and Rochdale AFC Community Trust are absolutely delighted for him.

Liam Whitehead, Ability Counts Coach, said: “Jamie’s never given up, and his love for football has always shined through!

“To see him score his first league goal on Friday was fantastic. You could see how much it meant to him. He regularly scores in training and in friendlies, but this is the first time he’s ever done it in a league game.

“As a coach, to see his confidence in training transfer to a league match, leading to a goal, is amazing, and something I and he will remember forever. Moments like this are why disability football is so important in the community.”

Charlotte Griffiths, Health and Inclusion Coordinator, added: “Jamie’s reaction to his goal on Friday night was absolutely magical. He was so pleased with himself and talked about it for the rest of the evening as the other matches were played.

“Being able to provide opportunities and moments like this is what it’s all about for us. Our inclusion work is growing rapidly, with pan-disability sessions now running right from the age of five, through to adulthood, and we’re so proud to be able to offer that for the local community.”

A huge congratulations to Jamie, on behalf of Rochdale AFC and Rochdale AFC Community Trust!




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