Words: Ludovico Romagnoli
Back in September, Brentford played Reading at Griffin Park. It could’ve been just like any other game in West London.
But Woody, who is non-verbal and has Down Syndrome, lead the Bees out in his brand new red-and-white kit, big number 6 on the back, coming through the tunnel to see the baize rise up in front of him, the flags waving and fans cheering. After a major heart surgery that was crucial for him to continue his life, Woody was living out his dream.
Woody and his mum Nat are now regulars at Griffin Park, having developed a relationship with everyone at the club. And, according to Nat, that bond has helped Woody better than any speech therapy as he recognises what the fans are saying, the names of players, and the songs they sing from the stands. He copies what he hears, and the more he comes to Griffin Park the more he learns.
We say ‘Football Is Brilliant’ a lot but, genuinely, when you see the game changing lives like that, who can argue? As Nat put it: “It was the best day of his life.”
We can’t wait to see Woody wearing that 6 on his back in a couple of years when he can join the Brentford Penguins FC, the Club’s own team for people with Down Syndrome. It’s a fantastic initiative that plenty of clubs around the country are adopting for incredible children like Woody.
Make sure to get involved by celebrating this special day on social media using the hashtags #LotsOfSocks, #WorldDownSyndromeDay and #WDSD19. Find out more about all the great work being done year round here.