Oxford Bulls Down's syndrome team plays first match

By Dean McLaughlin

Image source, Kevin Morrison
Image caption, The Oxford Bulls ended their night by dabbing with the Sion Sonics

A team of Londonderry footballers with Down's syndrome has played its first match after featuring in a video with a Republic of Ireland player.

The Oxford Bulls took on Sion Sonics on Monday night - another local team featuring players with Down's syndrome.

The friendly game - Oxford Bulls' first - was organised after the team featured in a video with winger James McClean that went viral.

Manager Kevin Morrison said it was "a night to remember".

Image source, Kevin Morrison
Image caption, Republic of Ireland winger James McClean left the young team 'star-struck' in March

'Phenomenal support'

"We started off with about six or seven players and things just blossomed from there," Mr Morrison told BBC Radio Foyle.

"Things have been crazy the past couple of months since the video with James McClean went viral.

Media caption, Oxford Bulls shot-stopper gets the plaudits

"Footballer Paddy McCourt has also been to meet the boys. The good will and support has been phenomenal.

"We've been training for two years and getting a match was a big thing for the boys."

Image source, Kevin Morrison

Sion Sonics have also been training for a year and hoping for a match, just like the Bulls.

"There are different needs within the groups," said Mr Morrison. "Crowds, cheering and a different venue could have been an issue for the boys, so we took them to a parish hall for the match.

"They really enjoyed it every minute and we didn't keep a score.

"As José Mourinho would say, it's not about the result. It was about our boys getting out into the community and they were amazing."

The teams are now resting and players meet later in the week to discuss tactics and their next match.

Image source, Kevin Morrison
Image caption, Adam is a big fan of the Ireland forward

The Oxford Bulls club was established with the help of the Foyle Down's Syndrome Trust, which provides a wide range of activities for young people and adults with the condition.

A mother, whose 10-year-old son plays for the team, said the club had given her 10-year-old son confidence and helped him make friends.

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