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  • Writer's pictureKai Gill

Grace Steele: My time with Eels

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of spending time with Hull & East Yorkshire’s first and only Powerchair Football club, the ER Electric Eels. This was my experience…

Powerchair football team

I was lucky enough to meet Kai, the club’s first team captain and marketing and communications officer, earlier in July at a charity footgolf event. The event was organised to raise funds for the 360 Foundation (providing financial support for disadvantaged children to access grassroots sports) and the Powerchair Football club. It became clear to me just how crucial it was for the team to raise money and to continue providing this safe haven to the players. The sport offers opportunities for those with disabilities to access football, something which they may have deemed impossible before.

The Team

Upon attending a training session at the University of Hull, it was evident just how close the club was. The sense of community was immediately present and every single player was excited to be there as soon as they entered the sports hall. The club is very diverse with all genders and ages welcome to participate; it is important to stress that the club accommodates anyone with disabilities who are eager to play the sport.

Powerchair football team meeting

The inclusivity did not end there. The training session was also open to players who did not want to play competitively, and even a player who did not feel up to training on that day but still wanted to be a part of the team and watch their friends. Many of the players see the sport as a social opportunity where they have a sense of belonging. This really highlights the significance that being part of the Eels team has on the players; it is an extremely strong community.

The Family

Not only does being part of the Eels team benefit its players, the community also supports their families and carers. A tight group was also clear off the court where the non-players could spend time socialising whilst watching the session. This is something that the Eels pride themselves on: providing a space where the family members and carers are not alone. It is more than a sport, after all.

My Experience

Watching the training session portrayed to me how skilful the sport actually is. Kai talked me through the different techniques and ways of hitting the ball. The spin-kicks were especially impressive. Different drills were organised by the coach for the players to participate in. I really enjoyed these and watching the team adapt to their assigned roles in them.

After watching the training session and getting some content for the club’s social media, it was time for me to get in the chair! I started on the slowest setting to get the hang of controlling the powerchair. When I felt confident enough with moving up and down the sports hall, I moved up the speed and attempted a mini assault course with cones (running a lot of them over!). It is definitely surprising how fast the powerchairs can actually get and how difficult it is to manoeuvre around at first.

Once I got the swing of things in the chair, Kai challenged me to a kickabout with one of the specially designed footballs (larger than a typical ball). Concentrating on dribbling the ball whilst controlling the powerchair was tough but Kai was a great teacher! He talked me through the technique of a spin-kick and, after a few practises, I was able to successfully execute one.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with the team from speaking to the players, watching the drills, getting involved in a chair to capturing moments for the team’s social media. A huge thank you to the team for welcoming me and allowing me to be part of the session! I will definitely be coming back to watch another session in the future (and maybe even get in the chair again).

Also, thank you to Kai for introducing me to the team and giving me this opportunity. I hope our reel has helped you personally with your aim of raising funds for a new powerchair, so that you can continue playing the sport that you are so passionate about. I know that the team, and powerchair football in general, relies heavily upon fundraising and sponsors to keep it running.

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