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James Excels with Disability Sport

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Year 11 pupil James Roberts has gone from strength to strength with his involvement in Disability Sports. In his own words, James talks of how he became involved and how his role has led him to represent his country at football with a place in the England CP Development Squad.

My name is James Roberts, I am 15 years old and I am a pupil at Bolton School. I was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP).  CP is a permanent disorder which affects a person's movement and activity. I am lucky in that my CP only affects my left side and does not affect my speech or cognitive development. My type of CP is a hemiplegia, and results in my left arm and leg being affected, and sometimes this can make it difficult to do normal activities.

Sport, especially football, has always been a passion of mine. Unfortunately, my disability has hindered my participation in able-bodied sport teams at school. With the aid of Trevor Pledger, the former Director of Sport at Bolton School, we tried to find a way to overcome this. Over the past year or so he has introduced and kept me updated with the progression of disability sport.

My first experience of Disability Sport was the Talent ID day for the Paralympics. This was held in Sheffield on the 29th January 2009.  Here, a vast variety of sports were on offer, many of which I had never tried before such as shooting and archery. Here, I also was given the opportunity to meet new people with a variety of disabilities. The day itself was thoroughly enjoyable, in particular meeting many Paralympians who had represented Great Britain in Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.

The talent ID day opened many links with Disability Sport. I was informed of the Parasport Website. I was soon attending various events organised in the locality, including a regional athletics event at the Manchester Stadium. From my performance at this event I was asked to represent the North West disabled athletics team in Blackpool on 4th July 2009, where the team went on to win overall the national championship!  

Although I enjoyed the athletics, and the opportunities the talent ID days gave me to try out many different sports, football was my passion. With the help again of Trevor Pledger, and his communications with the disability football coach Adam Temple, I was invited to the Manchester United Foundation training ground for trials to play for the Manchester FA Centre of Excellence. After succeeding in the trials, I was privileged and delighted to be invited to the Cliff Training ground in Salford to attend weekly training.  I have been going ever since early 2009, sometimes playing competitive matches against neighbouring regions and counties.

In March 2010, I attended the ISFA Leadership and Volunteering Programme and spent the weekend in Eastbourne. This was not a disability event, rather, an independent schools event. I enjoyed the weekend very much. From the event I learned, amongst other things the game and rules of Futsal. This is a game I hope to introduce and manage as a lunchtime activity for year 8 pupils next year. With the help of the staff at school it is hoped that I could arrange training sessions for year 8 boys and develop a tournament to raise funds for charity. 

My involvement in disability football progressed and I have recently been invited to join the England CP Development Squad. I am to attend my first weekend of training on 7th-9th of May 2010 at Lilleshall, Shropshire. I am looking forward to this and feel honoured that Adam Temple, my head coach at the Manchester FA Centre of Excellence has put me forward for such a prestigious position.

I personally feel there is a dynamic future for disability sport. Although I understand that disability sport in general has less public awareness than able bodied sports, I truly believe that with more leaders in the field and greater communication it can become as renowned as many of the able bodied sporting institutions of our country. 

 

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James outside The Cliff Training Ground

James outside The Cliff Training Ground