As part of Manchester City’s celebration of the UN’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we’re putting our community leaders in the spotlight.

We spoke to Brenda from our Mexico City Cityzens Giving project and now it’s the turn of an equally as inspiring individual, who lives a little closer to home.

City in the Community’s (CITC) Disability Coordinator, Paul Kelly, is responsible for one of the Foundation’s flagship programmes  – the disability football project, One City.

In its 30th year and reaching over one thousand participants across Manchester every month, the award-winning One City inclusion initiative uses the power of football to provide free sporting opportunities. 

“The programme aims to instil confidence and create a sense of empowerment that has an impact both on and off the pitch,” explains Paul.

“Every week, I’m so proud to watch our participants reach their personal milestones.”

“In addition to offering opportunities for all, the programme also provides a talent pathway to elite disability football.

“This has enabled several of our participants to represent Great Britain as part of the Amputee Football Squad.”

Increasing sport participation levels and raising awareness of issues affecting people with disabilities across the region are the other objectives of One City.

Improving both physical and social well-being for its participants, the programme delivers pan-disability, power chair and amputee football sessions at City Football Academy as well as educating mainstream schoolchildren on disabilities and inclusion.

For Ahmed Sherifi, whose son Idris is an amputee participant, One City has had an incredibly positive impact on the youngster.

“Football changed Idris’s life and it’s now totally in a different direction because we thought he couldn’t do that kind of thing,” Ahmed added.

“I loved taking him to matches and he started training two nights a week because he liked it so much.

“Joining City in the Community also allowed Idris to meet other children who are amputees, as well as some of the GB amputee football players.”

“If Paul hadn’t helped, we would never have had this happiness. Idris no longer feels he doesn’t have a leg and can’t do anything.” 

Since meeting Idris, Paul has referred him to the Make a Wish Foundation after Idris shared his dream of meeting the Manchester City first team.

As part of City in the Community’s 30th year celebration, the Foundation has teamed up with the wish granting charity to make Idris’ dream come true