Premier League Primary Stars helps Charlie play football for the first time

9th July

Swansea City AFC Foundation reached more participants and delivered more sessions through the Premier League Primary Stars programme during the 2022-2023 project year, compared to the previous year’s report, and Charlie Howlett has been among those to benefit from the initiative.

Between September 2022 and August 2023, 2,870 participants engaged with the Primary Stars project, which delivered 2,298 sessions across 51 different schools.

The aim of Premier League Primary Stars is to inspire children to learn, be active and develop important life skills through the power of sport, with 71 per cent of participants reporting improved interpersonal relationships.

One of the Foundation’s valued partner schools is Ysgol Pen Rhos in Llanelli and by bringing football into the school, one participant has achieved a goal he never thought would have been possible.

Charlie Howlett has a rare muscle disease which has previously prevented him from taking part in football. However, with the Swans Foundation delivering P.E. lessons in Ysgol Pen Rhos, Charlie is now thriving on the pitch, enjoying playing with his friends.

The Foundation has been working with Charlie for over two years, and education manager Ceri Phillips has been inspired by the progress he has made.

“We’re delighted that Charlie can fully participate in our sessions. No matter how you adapt the sessions or the challenges you set him, he achieves them straight away by throwing himself at it 100 percent,” said Phillips.

“With Primary Stars we want to make sure we’re delivering high quality P.E. and embed the Primary Stars values into our lessons; to be ambitious, be inspiring, be fair and be connected.

"Charlie achieves all of those and we’re really proud of the positive impact we’ve been able to have here.

“Knowing that the sessions will be adapted to ensure he can fully participate has been a key part, but what has also been vital has been how well he’s supported by his peers and Charlie supporting them in turn shows the strength of the Primary Stars project.”

PLPS Charlie

Charlie’s mother, Sam Howlett, puts Charlie’s newfound love of football down to the P.E. sessions delivered by the Swans Foundation, and he has noticed how much he has relished the chance to play.

“If it wasn’t for the Swans Foundation, Charlie wouldn’t know that he can play football, so it’s all down to them that Charlie is who he is today,” said Howlett.

“It doesn’t matter if you have a disability, the fact is they come to school and they include Charlie, which I think is amazing.”

Charlie himself has loved the chance to get involved, and hopes his participation can help encourage others to take part.

“Whoever you are you can play football,” said Charlie. 

“With (sports and eduction area coordinator) Courtney (Butt) coming into school I get to practice so it makes me feel a lot better. I like doing football because I want to prove that it doesn’t matter who you are you can do anything you want to.”

Claire Thomas, teaching assistant at Ysgol Pen Rhos, added: “Charlie has been able to build his confidence with his friends because he now has more things to talk to them about as he understands the different ways they’re talking about football, and the impact that has had on his confidence has been brilliant."

Having spotted his enthusiasm for football during the Primary Stars P.E. lessons, the Foundation encouraged Charlie to also attend their Premier League Kicks pan-disability sessions at Pure Football.

PL Kicks pan-disability Charlie

“It’s been great to see Charlie come along, you can see his confidence growing every week,” said Lloyd Thomas, learning disability manager at the Foundation.

“He’ll go up to other participants to talk to them, making friends and this is what the sessions are all about. More so than the football, we want our participants to have fun and be with their friends to develop their social skills as well.

“Charlie was part of the team we took to Cardiff to have a round robin against the Cardiff Foundation disability team, and trips like that give our participants a great opportunity to go into a different environment, meet different people and that develops their skills in another way.

“As a charitable fund we want to make sure that we provide opportunities to our participants, so for them to go to Cardiff, represent the Swans, wear the kit, is super important for their confidence and their morale, so it was fantastic trip for them.”

Charlie helped himself to a goal during that trip, and was thrilled to have the chance to represent the Swans.

“We beat Cardiff 3-1, I scored a goal and I was really chuffed about that. I feel like I’ve improved my skills with that trip and since then too,” added Charlie, who has become a season-ticket holder following his introduction. to the Foundation sessions.

“Charlie’s been going to the pan-disability sessions since September and from then he’s been a season ticket holder at the Swans because he has absolutely loved it, says mum Sam.

" It has shown him that you can do anything you put your mind to."

Swansea City AFC Foundation aims to ensure that every provision offered to the community is inclusive and everyone’s needs are catered for, allowing for participants to follow in Charlie’s footsteps and be involved in multiple programmes.

“We’ve really focused on our staff being able to adapt their sessions so everyone can take part, and to be able to signpost Charlie to our pan-disability sessions shows the pathway we’ve created and we’re really proud of that,” said Phillips.

Find out more about the Premier League Primary Stars programme here, and learn more about the Premier League Kicks pan-disability sessions here.