By Bradley Dowling
The start of the season saw Cardiff City launch a pioneering Club Goal of the Month competition on Cardiff City Player. Coaches from teams throughout the club including the first team, Development, Academy U18, Ladies, Futsal, Down's Syndrome Active, Deaf and Learning disability sides reveal their Goal of the Month, for Cardiff supporters to cast their vote on.
You would be forgiven for assuming that Craig Bellamy's stunning free-kick against Leeds United would have taken the award for September. However, Bellamy was beaten to it by the Community Foundation DS Active Team's Thomas Waite, whose goal saw him turn in his own penalty area and drive beyond the midfield, before calmly finishing in the top right corner.
Thomas, who received over 90% of the vote, was awarded the trophy for his winning strike by Malky Mackay prior to a recent home game against Hull City, before taking off on a half-time lap of honour, proudly holding the award aloft. Both sets of supporters rose to their feet, giving him a huge reception, whilst his overwhelmed family, who were guests at the game, watched on.
Cardiff's dedicated media team film all the action throughout the month, enabling for the interactive recognition of achievements outside of the first-team set-up. The competition has been well received amongst the fans, with one fan commenting on a Cardiff City forum: "To see this lad with smiles and taking some taps on the back and high fives off some of our fans was one of the best parts of my day."
Mike Evans, General Manager of The Football League Trust, reflecting on Thomas' win, commented: "Football clubs can be given a hard time, but what's often forgotten is football's ability to positively engage with communities.
"We have supported Cardiff City's disability sport through our Every Player Counts programme for the past two years, and it's fantastic to see Cardiff City embracing the use of Player with this refreshing competition, which reinforces cohesion between club and community trust.
"I'm sure that priceless moment will stay with Thomas forever."
You can check out Thomas taking Cardiff's Matt Connelly on at FIFA 13 in the EA arena, before his lap of honour by clicking here.
Cardiff City fans can see the winning goal and check out the October nominees, by signing up to Cardiff City Player.
To learn more about how DS Active provide children and young adults with Down's Syndrome a fair opportunity to get involved in football, please visit www.dsactive.org.