Ever-present DS team regular to Norwich City FC Community Hero
Eighteen-year-old Sam Copeman has been an ever-present participant of the Community Sports Foundation Norwich City Down’s Syndrome team since it was founded in 2011, being one of those who attended the first ever session.
The team, which relies on funding from the Barclays Premier League and the charity’s Sporting Light Appeal, meets weekly on Saturday mornings for training sessions and plays in fixtures against equivalent teams from across the country.
Sam’s mum Jane Copeman said: "The Saturday sessions are the highlight of his week; he really looks forward to them.
"He’s made some really good friends, developed his football skills, and - as a big Norwich City fan - the chance to represent the Club means so much to him.
"For us parents too, the sessions give us the chance to compare notes. Many of the parents travel with the team when they play away across the country, and we’ve formed some life-long bonds with other families."
This year the team have enjoyed a number of fixtures including a tour to the North-East to play the Newcastle United Foundation DS side and the chance to cheer the Canaries on at St. James’ Park.
Sam on tour with the team(left) and volunteering at the Coastal Walk Challenge 2015 (right)
Football is big in the Copeman household, as Jane explained: "His younger brother Harry and father play football for North Walsham U18s and Cromer Veterans respectively.
"Sam spent many years on the sidelines watching them play, but the DS sessions give him the chance to play too. It can be difficult for siblings in circumstances like Harry and Sam’s to find a common interest as they get older, but they have really bonded over their shared interest in football."
Their bond is so strong that Harry, 16, has been inspired to volunteer at the sessions himself and now helps CSF staff coach the team.
Sam’s own involvement with CSF goes beyond just the Down’s Syndrome Football team; this year he was one of a number of volunteers who helped support walkers doing the annual 47-mile Coastal Walk Challenge, one of which was his Dad, Matt.
To celebrate Sam’s commitment to the DS team, he was welcomed to Carrow Road as the club’s Community Hero for the fixture against West Bromwich Albion, along with all his family.
Sam (centre) is joined by dad Matt (left) and brother Harry (right)
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