The last six months, just like the last seven years, have been a whirlwind success story for the Skem Men-Aces and in particular the man behind it all, coach Carl Eaton.
In the build up before Christmas, Carl was recognised by the BBC as North West Sport’s unsung hero (pictured) and was invited to attend the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award ceremony on the shortlist for the overall award for the UK.
Although, Carl did not scoop the national award, he has continued to go from strength to strength to supply people with learning disabilities a football club of their own and he has once again been recognised last month, when he was named a Point of Light, in recognition of all of his hard work.
Carl founded the Skem Men-Aces in 2009, and has gone to great lengths to ensure there is somewhere for adults with learning disabilities to come together and enjoy football ever since. In the seven years since they have won a silver medal at the Special Olympics. Had several players selected to represent the UK Mencap team at the European Championships and raised thousands of pounds for various local charities.
Overseeing all of this and encouraging all those involved with the Skem Men-Aces has been Carl Eaton. In 2013, Carl contacted us in regards to arranging a game. We have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with the team ever since and are proud to be one of the Men-Aces principal sponsors.
Carl has done all this, despite being born with Spina Bifida and is also a right leg amputee. His selfless attitude has been an inspiration to many around him and it is only right that he gains some recognition for all of his hard work, even if, being the modest guy that he is, he keeps away from the attention.
It is clear that for Carl this is a passion and it is that passion that has helped turn an idea to provide people with learning disabilities with a place to come together, into a nationally recognised success story with over 40 members training on a weekly basis.
Their success has continued this year and thanks to some support from some local businesses, including ourselves, they unveiled their brand new minibus last month, to help them get to away games with more ease and to allow them to travel as a full team. Scott Rees and Co’s Dan Curwen, who is a close friend of the team, was on hand to witness the hand over and as you can see from his tweet below, the minibus looks fantastic.
Later this year, two more of their players, Theo Duke and James Hughes, will travel out to Geneva to represent the UK Mencap team at the 2016 European Championships, hoping to repeat Martin Makin’s feat last year of winning the tournament.
Carl’s latest award tops off a good start to 2016 for the Men-Aces and he received it from the Prime Minister, David Cameron who said of Carl: “Carl has shown a remarkable commitment to helping people with learning difficulties to enjoy the sport he loves.”
“By creating the Skem Men-aces, Carl has given people across the town the opportunity to play football and get active as well as building their confidence and becoming part of a team. I am delighted to recognise him as the UK’s 476th Point of Light.”
We have enjoyed sponsoring the Skem-Menaces now for nearly three years and we are looking forward to our next fixture with the team. If more football teams followed the model that Carl has set out for the Men-Aces then maybe there would be greater success in our national game.
Revenge will be on the mind of our football lads after we were humbled the last time out but one thing is always guaranteed when you play the Skem Men-Aces and that is a fun evening of football, played in exactly the right spirit.
So to sum things up appropriately, congratulations to Carl Eaton and everyone involved with the Skem Men-Aces from everyone at Scott Rees and Co. You are a credit to yourselves and the whole of Skelmersdale and we look forward to our next game of football.