By Tony Dewhurst

Graham Taylor, the former England Manager, has reserved special praise for The Football League Trust's disability programme.

Nottingham Forest hosted the East Midlands Every Player Counts disability festival, and Taylor, a special guest at the 2011 Grass Roots Football Show, told The Football League Trust website: "It amazes me to see the incredible efforts going on behind the scenes in disability football.

"Football is our national game, it is a great passion for so many people, but when you see this happening first hand, as I did, then you realise what it means to so many people.

"Nobody thinks about kids in wheelchairs, blind people playing football - there is some fantastic work going on all over the country by The Trust and these kids are the unsung heroes of the game.

"Those people who picked up the Every Player Counts awards at Birmingham were incredibly proud, as they should be, because through football they've achieved an awful lot against some incredible odds."

Taylor, England Manager from 1990 to 1993, and who also bossed Aston Villa and Wolves, added: "For some, because of the money and the profile of many top footballers, the professional game has drifted away from fans, but the work going on in disability football gives you a true perception of the power of football.

"I was so lucky in my life to play and manage at a good level. However, to watch the blind and wheelchair football, people competing and doing so much with their lives to overcome a tough disability, was very humbling."

The East Midlands Every Player Counts festival attracted hundreds of youngsters, parents and carers to the Nottingham event.

Football League Trust patron, Angela Yeoman, said: "Thanks to The Football Pools funding, over 14,000 young disabled people throughout the country are able to play football, and sport of all kinds.

"I attended the Nottingham disability festival of football and it was magnificent, seeing 350 young people of varying degrees of disability competing.

"It was very competitive, and I'll never forget a young lady with Cerebral Palsy, whose opponent knew she was running in for a tackle.

"She braced herself for a collision and they both went flying.

"There was a brief silence and then shrieks of laughter, both girls shaking hands and giving each other the ball before re-starting the game.

"The spirit of the competitors was amazing and it was the first time I've seen so many disabled people playing together in professional sport.

"Many have dreams of playing for their county and one day maybe the possibility of becoming a paralympian."

Adrienne Webber, Football League Trust Strategic Development Manager, said: "The East Midlands disability festival was an amazing success and it was wonderful to see so many there."

The Every Player Counts scheme is a leading project of The Football League Trust and supported by The Football Pools, delivering a three-year disability scheme to develop opportunities for all types of disability. ENDS

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