Last summer, one of our day service customers, Pam, was keen to find a local football team to play for. She asked, Jackie Taylor-Miller (education and outreach assistant manager) if she could help her find a team to join. After much searching, there didn’t seem to be a mainstream or special needs football team anywhere locally, that was able to take her. Jackie thought to herself ‘If I can’t find her a team to join, I will make a team especially for her.’ And so Ferring Rangers (named after John Ranger one of our founding members – as is our Café) was born!

The team of Day Service Customers, have been attending weekly training sessions on Thursday afternoons at Worthing Leisure Centre. Their coach – Wiggy – is a young volunteer just about to join the police and has led the team amazingly. There is a core group of eleven day service customers that have been to every single session since it was started. The emphasis of the team is on team spirit and working and supporting each other. It has made an incredible difference to many of their lives both physically and mentally.

The next challenge was financing the kit. We were very fortunate that Chris Trott and Phil Cole from Coast and Country Real Estate had already expressed an interest of wanting to help our Day Service Customers further, after raising money for the Centre last year. They were really enthusiastic to support our players, once they had heard Pam's story. We were also lucky that Mark Porter from RW Masters (bodywork, repair and restoration) was happy to sponsor the team. He has raised lots of money for various local charities in the past.

There was great excitement as the kit was revealed and we are so grateful to both our sponsors for making it possible. The colours of the kit are blue and orange, to reflect Ferring Country Centre colours. And how smart they all looked in it, with their names and number choice printed on the back.

The next thing we needed was a team to play against! After asking around, a friendly was arranged with Worthing FC Inclusive. Everybody at Ferring Country Centre was very excited and special flags were made to wave at the match in support.

The match took place on Sunday 26th February at Worthing leisure Centre. It was a bitterly cold day but not one moan was heard from the team. Lots of family, colleagues,volunteers and friends braved the cold to support the team on their very first match. There was an air of anticipation and encouragement.

The team started by standing in a circle with one hand in the middle. Then they all shouted ‘Go Rangers!’ as they lifted their arms up. A reminder that they were a team, everyone an important spoke in the wheel.

During the first half of the match, the team adjusted to playing against another team. They didn’t let their spirits be dampened as Worthing started scoring goals. They shouted encouragement to each other and showed compassion and care if anyone fell or got bumped (whichever team the player played for). Then Shane scored the first ever goal for the Rangers, to an explosion of cheers and applause. They ended the first half of the match 6-2 to Worthing.

In the second half, the team came out with renewed energy. Team members were changed around to give everyone the chance to play. Mason swapped with Ricky in goal and Ricky scored an amazing goal from across the pitch! And then the goals just kept on coming! The match ended 8-6 to Worthing but The Rangers definitely won the second half!

Everybody was pleased with how well the match had gone. Wiggy commented, ‘I’m thrilled because each player played with their heart’. Jackie said,with a hoarse voice from all her cheering, ‘I’m amazed by their resilience, they just didn’t give up and kept on giving.’

And Pam? Well, Pam was the proud Team Captain and the reason the whole event had come about. She said, ‘ I was a bit nervous to start with but I was fine once I got into it!' She is already looking forward to the next match, possibly against Aldingbourne.

Harry, one of the players, was asked how he felt after the match. ‘Powerful!’ he replied, with a great big smile on his face.

Well done Ferring Rangers! You did us all proud!