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Powerchair football tournament raises money for charities

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A powerchair football tournament raised £3,000 for Albion in the Community (AITC) and another charity.

The Julie Hodder Cup is organised by AITC and local businessman Steve Darby and is played in memory of Julie Hodder, Mr Darby’s sister who was a teacher at Chailey Heritage School.

Each year the money raised by the event is donated to AITC, the largest provider of disability football opportunities in the area, and Chailey Heritage Foundation, which provides specialist education and residential support to children and young adults with complex physical disabilities.

The annual tournament has come a long way since being formed after a chance conversation between Mr Darby and Jadey Yesilada – a former Chailey Heritage pupil who was taught by Julie Hodder and has since become AITC’s official ambassador.

To make the tournament fully-inclusive, matches are split between games involving powerchairs and others where players use manual chairs. Live commentary is also provided by renowned football commentator Peter Brackley.

Brighton & Hove Albion Powerchair FC (BHAPFC) once again took the trophy, beating an Albion All-Stars team led by Seagulls legends Guy Butters and Danny Cullip in the final. Players from Chailey Heritage and a number of local businesses also took part.

Mr Darby said seeing the progress made by BHAPFC since the first Julie Hodder Cup back in 2011 was particularly pleasing. BHAPFC finished third in the country’s top powerchair league last season.

He said: “To see how the BHAPFC team have flourished to become a force to be reckoned with both nationally and in Europe shows the dedication of the players and coaches over the past seven years.

“Julie was a teacher at Chailey Heritage School and knew how hard it is to shine through adversity and I know she would be so proud to be remembered in such a positive way.”

Paul Brackley, AITC’s disability manager, was equally-delighted with how the tournament went. He said: “The Julie Hodder Cup is one of the highlights of the year and it was brilliant to once again be able to enjoy the day with our friends from Chailey Heritage. Our thanks go to everyone who continues to support this fantastic event and, of course, to Steve for his hard work.”

AITC will receive around £2,500 from the day, which will help fund the charity’s football sessions for people with a disability, while Chailey Heritage Foundation will receive around £500, which will go towards building The D.R.E.A.M Centre, a multi-purpose activity centre.

Al Carter, physical inclusion communication liaison co-ordinator at Chailey Heritage Foundation, added: “The Julie Hodder Cup is a special event for us at Chailey Heritage Foundation. It is great to see these amazing players competing in the tournament to raise money in memory of Julie.”