Everton’s fixture against Southampton on Sunday will see Carlo Ancelotti’s men wear the 2020/21 third kit for the first time since it was officially unveiled by players from Everton’s disability football teams in August.
The kit launch marked the start of the 20th anniversary year for the Everton in the Community Disability Programme and the start of a new partnership with Everton’s technical partner hummel, who have pledged to invest into a year-long education and training initiative that will see 20 disabled participants join the Stage One Coaching Programme as part of its ongoing commitment to the charity.
Ahead of Sunday’s game at St Mary’s Stadium, Everton in the Community Disability Manager Steve Johnson and hummel’s Chief Brand Officer Filip Trulsson caught up via Zoom to discuss the new partnership in more detail and outline exactly what it will mean for the charity and its participants moving forwards.
The call began with Steve providing an insight into the Disability Programme programme at the charity and its growth since 2000 – when it offered two football teams – to now providing football and physical activity opportunities for over a thousand disabled children and adults each year. He explained how the scope of the programme now includes operating 11 football teams, working at special schools and community centres across Merseyside and delivering daily play therapy sessions at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Steve also spoke with Filip about his own personal journey and how he turned losing his leg in a footballing accident in the 1980s into a positive and has since developed the England Amputee Football Association, been inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame, been crowned World Amputee Football of the Year and picked up 130 international caps and three World Cup winners’ medals.
It was announced in May that Everton Football Club had agreed a Club-record technical partnership with iconic sportswear brand hummel and, reflecting on the initial conversations with the Blues, Filip said: “When we met with Everton the first time it was quite evident early on that this is The People’s Club and there is a long standing programme which supports the community, and we were excited to see how we could become an active partner in supporting what is already a renowned and established programme in English football.
“When the opportunity came to join forces with Everton in the Community – most notably during the 20th anniversary of the Disability Programme – it was something that we felt was very exciting but also very important for us and we felt both humbled and extremely fortunate to partner up with the Club and a programme which has such a successful record thanks to you and your staff, Steve.”
Touching upon what the funding from hummel will mean for Everton in the Community, and how it will opening up opportunities for disability coaches to find future employment, Steve told Filip: “This funding will enable us to support 20 disabled people in gaining their FA Level One coaching qualification. These individuals will come from our programmes and, by the end of the season, we will have a greater workforce of disabled people working within Everton in the Community and other partners, so it really is a fantastic opportunity for them.
“It’s really important we focus on their abilities and support and support them into whatever career they want to do but this funding will go a long way in supporting disabled people into employment, which is absolutely fantastic.”
Founded in 1923, Danish sportswear brand hummel are one of the oldest team sport brands in the world with an incredible footballing heritage and a reputation for embedding equality and diversity into its work, as Filip told Steve.
“Everyone at hummel is very excited to give this opportunity to 20 new coaches and I can only imagine that if they continue on that path and take the next level and so on then there is an accumulation effect on so many players,” he said. “The empowerment and positivity linked to this project is integral to the value we try to represent. We’ve supported equality and diversity for many years and it is part of our value chain and we are all looking forward to experiencing this project first-hand and seeing the positive impact and development it has on the lives of others. We can’t wait to bring the whole community of hummel along on this positive journey.”
Reflecting on the shared values of hummel and Everton in the Community, Steve said: “We are committed to supporting the local community and tackling any social issues in Merseyside and it is clear to see that both organisations very much share the same values and commitment to providing equal opportunities to all. This funding will enable our participants to gain employment and vital life skills and help them become positive role models for other disabled people and inspire them to become our coaches of the future, and I’m sure it will be very successful.”
The Blues will pull on the modern seafoam green and charcoal design kit for the first time this Sunday when they travel to the South Coast, with both Filip and Steve looking forward to the game and what the third kit represents due to its strong ties with the charity and its disability programme.
“Wearing the third kit for the first time will now have much more significance to us than just a symbolic value of wearing a specific shirt for that game,” said Filip. “Speaking on behalf of our whole team in Denmark, and the UK, we are very excited to get started and to get this new coaching programme kicked off for the remainder of the season.”
Established in 2000, Everton in the Community’s Disability Programme supports disabled people into education, training, employment, volunteering and social opportunities, whilst tackling negative stigma in society and challenging the huge inequalities that still exists. The programme has seen more than 50 players go on to represent their countries playing at European Championships, World Cups and Paralympic Games.