Fulham Football Club Foundation hosted the first national Premier League Down’s Syndrome Football Festival on Sunday, in association with the Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) and Football Aid.

The day saw nine teams, from as far out as Ipswich, Cardiff and Hull travel to Fulham’s Motspur Park Training Ground to partake in a day of activities and tournaments aimed at raising the awareness of today’s World Down’s Syndrome Day (Monday 21st March) and the start of the National Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week.

Eighty-four players donning their respective team’s kit took to the pitch in front of 403 spectators. The nine teams involved were: Fulham Badgers QPR Tiger Cubs Charlton Upbeats West Ham DS Hammers Ipswich Town FC Trust DS Team Cardiff City Blue Birds Hull City DS Team Harvesters DSActive Hereford Bulls Those aged 12 years and under at the event engaged in some skill based football activities, capping their day off with a match. The 13+ group played a round robin, six-a-side tournament with each match lasting eight minutes.

The teams were split into 2 leagues on the day, with the Fulham Badgers facing tough opposition in their League One matches from rival London clubs the Charlton Upbeats, West Ham DS Hammers and the QPR Tiger Cubs.

The Charlton Upbeats rightfully lifted the League One trophy having won all of their matches. Cardiff City Blue Birds topped League Two, pipping Harvesters DSActive to the trophy by one point. Other runners up in that league were Hull City DS Team and the Ipswich Town FC Trust DS Team.

The festival was made possible thanks to a donation of £19,333 from the Premier League and Football Aid benefitting the Down’s Syndrome Association. DSA Patron and professional footballer Kevin Kilbane added his full support by taking part in the warm up and cheering from the touch line whilst the games were underway.

Former Fulham favourite, Simon Morgan, now Head of Community Development at the Premier League, was also around on the day to show the great support the Premier League has given the DSActive project since the pioneering Fulham Badgers team was formed in June 2006.

DSA Patron and Professional Footballer Kevin Kilbane summed up the day: “Numerous teams have joined since the launch of the Fulham Badgers in 2006 and now DSActive is benefitting people with Down’s syndrome through football.  Today’s festival, I hope, is the first of many.  The DSA has been great to my family amongst many families.  It has been wonderful to come down and support the event.”