The Derby County Down Syndrome football team took to Birmingham on Sunday to take part in the DS Active National Finals.
The Rams side, made up of players from across Derbyshire, qualified for the finals as members of the DS Active Programme, a bespoke football programme ran by the Down Syndrome Association.
18 teams took part on the day from football league clubs across the country, with the DS Active rams being drawn into a group alongside Northampton, Newcastle and Everton.
The group stage saw the Rams pull out 3 wins and 3 draws, including an impressive 4-0 win against Newcastle. The results saw Derby top the group and progress into the semi finals where they would face Queens Park Rangers.
After a tense start to the semi final, Derby began to find their rhythm, braces from Jacob Smalley, Will Marshall and Luke Curtis sealed a 6-3 win and a place in the National Final against the Charlton Athletic Upbeats.
The DS Active Rams have previous with the Charlton Upbeats having travelled down to the Valley to play against them as part of their annual Upbeats day. On that occasion the quality and experience of the Upbeats showed with the match ending in a 9-1 defeat.
In the Final it was a similar story, Derby battled hard but the Charlton Upbeats were just too strong for them. The final ended 6-0 and Charlton were crowned national champions with Derby runners up.
Following the tournament, DS Active Rams Manager, Lauren Asquith said:
“It’s been a fantastic day for all involved, were really proud of how well the team did, finishing runner up in the national final.”
“On the final itself she added “It was always going to be difficult against an experienced Charlton team, but in comparison our team is still in its infancy.”
“Overall it was a fantastic day, a massive thanks to DS Active and The Albion Foundation for hosting!”
The DS Active rams take part in weekly training sessions, 5pm-6pm at the Johnson Building, Derby College. Sessions are accommodating for participants aged 5+.