A 16-YEAR-OLD who was picked for England’s powerchair football team said he and his teammates were ‘treated like Wayne Rooney’ at their recent training session.
Matt Francis, from Angmering, joined up with the national squad earlier this month for a session held at the FA’s national training centre in Burton-upon-Trent.
While there, he and his team-mates benefited from work with video analysts, dieticians and even mechanics to help fine-tune their wheelchairs.
Matt, 16, said: “It was an amazing experience from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. We were treated in exactly the same way as Wayne Rooney and the rest of England squad. “We were given full kit, had to sign the England players’ code of conduct and have full medical assessments.
“We had specialist physios, video analysts, dieticians, mechanics for our powerchairs – the back-up team and set-up was incredible.”
Powerchair football is a form of the game designed for wheelchair users that are unable to take part in other sports, such as rugby or hockey.
It involves two teams of four playing the game with adapted rules on a basketball court.
Matt, who plays club football for Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premiership, was selected for the 12-man training squad last month after impressing scouts with his performances.
He suffers from Syrinx, a spinal condition which leaves him unable to walk, and was selected for England only two years after learning the game.
For the full story, see this week’s Gazette (Thursday, October 24).