Charlton’s first-team players were joined by members of the Charlton Upbeats for a training session on Wednesday morning to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day.

Nathan Jones, the Addicks’ manager, led a seven-a-side match against the Upbeats, alongside Alfie May, George Dobson, Panutche Camará, Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Terry Taylor, and Lucas Ness, who faced players from the Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s (CACT) popular Down’s syndrome programme.

The Upbeats are exclusively sponsored by contributions; every year, a Charlton matchday is dedicated to them, and fans are encouraged to donate to the cause.

Before the Addicks’ game against Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, April 20th, the Upbeats Walk, sponsored this year by We Are BrandNew, will take place, with fans and supporters walking nine miles from the training ground to The Valley to raise funds for the Charlton Upbeats programme. Last year, a record £49,000 was raised, and this year’s goal is £35,000.

Prior to the first-team game, the Upbeats will play their own game versus Everton as the Community’s Down’s syndrome team.

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After observing the first-team training session, the Upbeats were allowed to participate and learn from the players and Jones before being put through their paces in a tightly contested match against their heroes.

Charlton Manager Nathan Jones remarked, “It was a pleasure to meet them. They’re a fantastic bunch who have greatly improved the atmosphere! It was wonderful to have them here.

“We have a great Community Trust, and the Upbeats are simply one aspect of it. It’s a fantastic community club, and we want to ensure that it continues since community is central to all we do here.

“They far exceeded the necessary target last season thanks to the fans so I hope we can do that again.”

Alfie May, the Addicks’ 25-goal scorer, said: “It was great fun. It’s an excellent illustration of the club’s community service efforts.

“They gave us a great game! The smiles on their faces revealed how much it meant to them. I don’t think I needed to give them many pointers; their ball hitting was outstanding!”

CACT’s Disability & Mental Health Manager, Terry Peart, said: “Every year we’re invited to get involved with the players and, yet again, they’ve been absolutely brilliant.

“Nathan and the lads rushed in to play a small-sided game, and it means a lot to them to be around their heroes and be a part of the team.

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“We can’t thank the supporters enough for their support since the beginning of the programme. They came out in droves to support the Upbeats movement. It’s developed significantly over the years, and they understand how essential it is for the Community Trust and the club to promote the amazing job we do, so having their support is fantastic.”

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