22/02/2021

Karli-Ann and Harry's Story

Harry Morgan

Karli-Ann lives in Hertfordshire.

She has two sons - Harry and Ellis - both mad about football, and their father is also a coach at a local club.

Harry has been playing for Everett Rovers for three years, a pan disability football team in Watford with over 50 registered players and in normal times, more than 35 playing weekly.

Harry has ADHD and autism and related complications, meaning finding the right team environment was a real challenge for his family. 

Here is Karli-Ann's story in her own words.

When your child gets diagnosed with special educational needs, as a parent you're just told what they've got and left to fend for yourself.

I felt very, very isolated. I didn't know anything about what was available and what my rights were as a parent.

If we were out with Harry and he had a bit of a moment, I'd get angry about the looks we'd get from mainstream parents. I would say: 'how can you be so judgmental?'

My child is different, but different isn't bad. That's what I've learned through Everett Rovers Football Club.

Harry was always sporty but on an individual basis. He'd do swimming and play a bit of football with his brother but he could never go into a mainstream team.

He didn't used to be very good with group activities. He swears a little bit and he's not very patient. In a mainstream team, he'd be sent off after two minutes!

Harry was a bit of a loner, he struggled to fit in and he wouldn't talk to other people if it wasn't about something he liked.

We stumbled across Everett Rovers when one of his friends from school started to play for them, and I spoke to his mother.

When he went for the first time, he was a bit hesitant and didn't want to join in. Mark (Collins, coach) pulled Harry over and gave him a bit of one-to-one to get him interested.

Being at Everett has taught him how to control his behaviour. He has to accept the referee's decisions and when they concede a goal - life skills, basically.

Now, he high-fives and talks to everyone in the team. He's really come out of his shell and he's been able to bond with team-mates.

Harry loves the structure, he knows that every Saturday is football training. When he was having a bad week at school we'd be able to say: 'you've got football on Saturday.'

He tells people he plays for a special needs football team. He's really proud of it.

Harry has been to play dates at the houses of other children from football, we could never have dreamed of him doing that a few years ago. It's made him a much more rounded child.

For me, as a parent, Everett is a lovely, supportive place to be. The parents there, they just know.

You don't get looks like: 'oh god, look at that child, they can't control him.' It's a supportive group for Harry and for all the parents who attend. You're never judged there. It's reassuring.

I don't think there's one parent at the club who I haven't spoken to and connected with. When you're an SEN parent, so much is based on word of mouth and if you're not having those conversations, you're cut off from the community.

Harry playing for Everett Rovers has made me excited about the future he has ahead of him.

To find out more about Everett Rovers click HERE and head to the activity finder on our website to search for further opportunities