As part of the EFL’s Community Day of Action [club’s up and down the country are staging events as we speak] first team players Nick Anderton and Aaron Hayden joined in with a fantastic Zoom call with the Community Sports Trust’s Disability Football Group this morning where just about every topic was up for discussion.
The captain and vice-captain were surprise guests for the group, who have been frustrated in recent months at not being able to enjoy their weekly get togethers in the Neil Centre.
The disability football team are a close-knit bunch, but the competitive nature of their approach to the game quickly shone through as it was revealed that ‘megs’ – along with other skills – are often used, and then talked about for weeks and weeks after, much to the dismay of the player on the receiving end!
More banter and jokes followed when Nick revealed that he was a Preston North End fan – you can imagine how a Carlisle United group reacted to that – and there was open laughter and friendly prodding when Aaron, who finished training slightly later, turned up with a Tottenham Hotspur t-shirt on.
The discussion then centred on the Champions League, and the merits of the teams who had contested the competition, and a lively 40 minutes was rounded off with the players talking about some of their first-team experiences.
“That was fantastic,” Nick said. “You could tell everyone surprised to see us when the call started, but it was like we all knew each other really well once everybody started chatting.
“The news that I was a Preston fan went down well, didn’t it! That kind of friendly banter is what football is all about and it was great to hear that one of the other lads follows Preston as well. That quietened everybody down a bit.
“I’d like to thank the group for letting us take part and hopefully, once restrictions lift a bit more, we’ll actually get to see them play at some point.”
“I really enjoyed that,” Aaron told us. “You could tell how much everybody gets on with each other and it was also clear that the zoom calls they hold mean a lot to them.
“It’s fantastic that they’ve kept in touch through these difficult times and hopefully me and Nick being there on this call will have added something different.
“With everybody being so isolated over this last year we haven’t been able to get out in the community as much as we would like, and it would be easy for us just to focus on what we do and forget about the other aspects of the club.
“That’s why it’s been so good for us to be able to join in with calls like this, and I’d like to say thanks to the disability team for making it so much fun to do.”
CST manager John Halpin said: “I hadn’t told the group that Nick and Aaron were coming onto the call, so it made it even better when they logged on and saw them there.
“Things like this are important and for our club captain and vice-captain to take time out of what was a busy day is another example of how good this current group of players is.
“In terms of well-being, it isn’t something you can measure, but the positive impact for my disability players to get an opportunity to just sit and chat with two professionals from the club they support can’t be put into words.
“I was smiling for hours after it, so a massive thank you goes to everybody for making it such an enjoyable experience.”