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Guardian reports on Brentford Penguins

Feature on team for players with Down's syndrome

29 March 2022

The Guardian newspaper has done a report on Brentford Penguins. Brentford Penguins FC is a football programme run by former player Allan Cockram. Their sessions based at Gunnersbury Park are open to anyone with Down’s syndrome aged eight and over.

Allan was a popular Brentford player in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He played just over 100 games for The Bees in his time with us. He runs a Penguins squad that features Woody O’Rourke, one of our very well-known fans who captured the nation’s hearts after his celebratory hug with Thomas Frank after the first game of the season against Arsenal.

To mark World Down Syndrome Day, the global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012, on 21 March we invited the Brentford Penguins FC to our recent game against Burnley. The 21st day of the third month, was selected given the significance of the number 21 – Down’s syndrome occurs when an individual has an extra partial (or whole) copy of chromosome 21. See more here.

The Guardian newspaper have also done a feature on the Club. They spoke to Allan about his career and, mostly, about why he runs Brentford Penguins FC. Allan explained how a conversation turned in to setting up the team in 2017.

“I played football with the son of a friend. We built a bond," Allan explained.The boy died of complications relating to Down’s in the mid-1990s aged just 14. “I vowed that one day I would set up a football club for people with Down’s syndrome,” he added. “Fast-forward 20 years, and I had the opportunity to do it.

“We all need to belong to something bigger than ourselves. The smiles on their faces. That family environment. You see them flourish. The friendship they have for each other is crazy.”

Allan talked about the Sunday morning sessions and his enjoyment of it. He explained how the young people had developed playing football. Read the full piece here.


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