Charlton Athletic’s Upbeats have won an impressive ninth DS Active national title, beating a combined Bristol and Swindon side 8-1 in Sunday’s final.
Organised by the Down Syndrome Association, the DS Active Festival brings together 24 teams from across the UK, with more than 150 participating in total.
And this year’s tournament culminated in an eighth consecutive title for the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) side, who took 14 players split into Upbeats Addicks and Upbeats Valiants to Birmingham.
CACT’s Upbeats programme allows participants to play high-level football in an inclusive environment while also increasing the aspirations of Upbeats and their families, strengthening bonds and relationships between them.
The Upbeats Addicks won all five of their group games to progress to the semi-finals while the Upbeats Valiants narrowly missed out on a final four place on goal difference.
The semi-final saw Upbeats Addicks beat Lincoln 4-0 before triumphing against Bristol and Swindon’s combined team.
The side celebrated in style, with their own rendition of chants and songs they and more than 38,000 other Addicks fans had sung at Wembley as Charlton’s first-team clinched Championship promotion just a few weeks ago.
Attending his first tournament, Ben Geary, a CACT Casual Coach who helps train the Upbeats weekly, said: “My first weekend coaching the Upbeats in a competitive way was great fun! The atmosphere was incredible and everyone was so welcoming. What an amazing experience!”
Upbeats player Malick Irmal, who was appearing in his fifth tournament, added: “Charlton had more power, more energy; we did good! This feels like our Champions League final”.
Meanwhile, James Barnes, who has been involved in the programme since the start, said: “I feel overwhelmed. It was an amazing performance by the Upbeats.
“Let’s do this and win next year’s DS Active tournament and bring that back to Sparrows Lane too.”