Roy Hodgson attended an evening celebrating the work of the Palace for Life Foundation this week and said that he was “proud to be a part of football” having seen “that football can do so much to improve people’s lives.”
Along with 150 other guests, the Palace manager joined an audience of young south Londoners, some of whom told their story and explained how the Foundation had supported them.
Hodgson said: “I think it’s a privilege to be here. Hearing what the Palace for Life Foundation are doing for so many people and then to see it at such close hand, to hear the testimonies of people who have been helped.
“To see all the people in the room, the various teams, the Down’s Syndrome team for example, the wheelchair team. To know there are so many people who care and do so much work, it’s very humbling, I’ve got to say that. It’s also something that makes me quite proud to be a part of football, knowing that football can do so much to improve people’s lives.
“Of course, here in south east London, it’s really needed and the work that the Palace for Life Foundation does has so many benefits for so many people. I can only hope that it continues to grow at the extent it’s been growing for the last few years.
“Certainly for the last two years since I’ve been involved with the club, I’ve seen already that more and more is getting done, that more and more people are being taken on and that more and more people are being helped.”
The Foundation supports 14,000 south Londoners a year through their range of programmes, including the running of the Down’s Syndrome Eagles. Anita, mother of Louis, one of the DS Eagles’ key players, joined her son and Hodgson on stage and said: “It’s amazing to be involved, he’s been playing with the team for two years, training every Wednesday at Monk’s Hill Leisure Centre and he asks every day when he gets up: ‘is it Wednesday?’
“He’s learnt so many skills from the Foundation. Learning how to play a match, sharing with others, communicating, not just football. It’s nice for him to play in a team with other children with disabilities. I found it hard to put him into a club, but when I found Palace for Life I didn’t look back.”
Having met a range of people who are supported by the Foundation in one capacity or another, Hodgson continued: “You’re seeing people who’ve had none of the benefits, none of the advantages that you yourself have been able to benefit from in life and it’s a very humbling experience I find.
“To go there and see and remember how lucky have I been and how unfortunate have so many other people been and how wonderful it is to see people giving up so much of their time - so much of their life - to help them.
“It makes me proud to be a part of football... It makes me proud of having worked in football all my life. It makes me proud that football can play a part in this very, very important work that Palace for Life Foundation do.”