It’s all smiles for Laiba at BFCitC dance sessions!

It’s all smiles for Laiba at BFCitC dance sessions!

Burnley FC in the Community’s disability sport provision is going from strength to strength and participant Laiba is a prime example of the impact it is making in the community every day.

11-year-old Laiba, originally engaged with Burnley FC in the Community through the Premier League Primary Stars programme, which was embedded into her school, Reedley Primary, with a focus on PE & School Sport, an area that Laiba had previously encountered numerous barriers.

Prior to getting involved with Burnley FC in the Community, Laiba had great difficulty accessing any form of sport or physical activity, both in and outside of school. After being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, which severely inhibits Laibas mobility, restricting her to either a wheelchair or a kaye walker, her family, friends and teachers were admittedly unaware of the opportunities available and unsure of how to tailor sport around her needs.

At Burnley FC in the Community, we are fully committed to overcoming these uncertainties and aim to create opportunities for the people within our community who possess a disability, as everybody deserves the right to access sport regardless of the severity of their disability / impairment.

Since first getting involved with the charity, through the Premier League initiative PL Primary Stars, Laiba has now grown confident enough to further her experiences in sport by accessing The Danny Ings Disability Sport Project. Laiba now attends two hours of extra-curricular sport a week; the Impairment Specific Coaching Centre for Physical Disabilities and the Disability Dance Centre, something that was not imaginable prior to her engagement, that is now having a direct benefit on her health and social wellbeing.

The Impairment Specific Coaching Centre has allowed Laiba to enjoy a wide range of sports such as football, basketball and many more, while the fun and energetic dance sessions offer participants the chance to learn new routines every week and provide a fantastic alternative for people with a disability to use dance as a way of getting active while making friends along the way.

Laiba would not have been in this position if it wasn’t for the journey she embarked on with Liam Ashworth, a Burnley FC in the Community coach who leads on the PL Primary Stars programme. They have an unbelievable bond which was published nationally in a short video which demonstrates the impact the programme is having on Laiba’s life. Laiba now associates the Burnley FC badge with enjoyment and fun thanks to Liam’s dedication and commitment to ensuring she can access every opportunity possible in sport. This has been a winning formula for ensuring Laiba’s transition between programmes was smooth and efficient.

In addition to Liam’s support, Burnley FC in the Community’s Disability Development Team work closely with The Rainbow Centre, which provides specialist assessments, diagnosis, advice and on-going interventions for children with complex neurodevelopmental impairments. A relationship which is blossoming with the centre regularly referring patients to The Danny Ings Disability Sport Project, to support their physiotherapy programmes.

Helen Walsh, Paediatric Physiotherapist in The Rainbow Centre at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Access to sport is an integral part of a child’s physiotherapy management, increasing strength, cardiovascular fitness and helping to develop important peer relationships by improving self-esteem, motivation and social skills. The partnership formed between Burnley FC in the Community and the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust’s Paediatric Physiotherapy Service has facilitated children in the area to access the sporting environment with the support they require to meet their additional physical needs.”

“Laiba is a young girl who has attended physiotherapy for treatment since a very early age. She has benefited physically as well as gaining confidence and motivation from accessing the disability sports programme which we are delighted with. Laiba and her mother have both told us how much enjoyment she gains from attending the sessions. She is forming friendships with other children with similar needs whilst mum reports the support she receives from other parents she has met through the programme is fantastic and a really big help.”

“We will be continuing to promote the disability sports programme across The Paediatric Physiotherapy Service and urge everyone to take up on this fantastic and vital opportunity which meets the needs of the children with disabilities within this area. As a department, we consider ourselves very fortunate to have established this partnership and to have this programme available for our patients.”

Through this joint support from school staff, Burnley FC in the Community and The Rainbow Centre, Laiba has had her life significantly transformed for the better and has managed to successfully overcome the misconceptions she once faced and broken down the barriers that stood in her way. It’s opened numerous doors and she is now beginning to reap the benefits sport can provide, not just physically, but also socially where Laiba has thrived, making new friends something that her family have been delighted to see.

Laiba’s mum, Iram Noreen, said: “I’ve seen a big change in Laiba. She’s more confident and she’s more independent.”

“The teachers didn’t know how far they could push her, the Burnley FC in the Community staff have experience and know how to deal with Laiba and her needs. Since getting involved with the charity she’s actually more capable than I as a parent thought she would be, I’m amazed at what she’s doing now. She was playing football the last time I heard, she’s come on leaps and bounds.”

“I’m amazed the relationship that Laiba and Liam have – it’s a really close bond. Before, Laiba was shy but she’s come out of her shell a lot, she’s bubbly and much more confident. Burnley FC in the Community have made a real difference.”

Burnley FC in the Community Disability Development Officer, Lewis Rimmer said: “Laiba’s story is certainly a heart-warming one, knowing that once upon a time taking part in sport was only a dream which more recently has become a reality is a fantastic achievement for all involved.”

“It is great to see such impactful programmes, such as the PL Primary Stars and The Danny Ings Disability Sport Project working in harmony to achieve such positive outcomes. Something that wouldn’t be possible without Liam’s hard work in embedding the brand within local Primary Schools.”

“It also highlights and gives great recognition for the invaluable link made between Burnley FC in the Community and The Rainbow Centre which allows us to support children with their physiotherapy and have fun at the same time.”

Laiba’s journey is a prime example of Liam and the team at Burnley FC in the Community working hard to inspire, support and deliver change to those who need it most and further demonstrates the immeasurable power sport and the Burnley FC badge can offer.

For more information on the Danny Ings Disability Sport Project and how to get involved please contact Lewis Rimmer on or 01282 704716.