Lee Brennan head coach at Hull & East Yorkshire Powerchair Football Club shares his perspective of what powerchair football has done for his son Luke and the family including his proudest moment as the coach.
Ah, Powerchair football.
I remember with fondness those very first ‘taster’ sessions organised by The WFA and our local East Riding County FA. Fondness in retrospect, but my overwhelming thoughts at the time were ones of apathy.
We’ve seen it all before. Yet another sports/leisure project aimed at engaging disabled kids/young people during school holidays. Initial interest is high but after a few weeks the interest wanes and nothing further transpires. Rinse and repeat.
Except in the case of powerchair football I can safely say that was NOT the case.
My younger son Luke was born with CP. He has very little movement in his right side and his left sideis affected too although he has more strength in that area. Luke had tried wheelchair basketball but he couldn’t play competitively. The local club were, and still are, a fantastic organisation and Luke has made many friends there – it’s just the sport of wheelchair basketball wasn’t for him.
He tried powerchair football at those ‘taster’ sessions back in the summer of 2012 and instantly took to it. Luke had been a football fan for some years by then and this gave him the opportunity to play the game, albeit in a powered wheelchair. Just like other able bodied kids he could now dream of emulating his Hull City heroes like Dean Windass and Nicky Barmby.
So, the next step was to form a local club with other like-minded parents of disabled youngsters. The rest, as they say, is history. The East Riding Electric Eels PFC (as it was then) was born and I’m proud to say that I was part of that committee that formed the club. The club recently celebrated its 5th anniversary, again that’s something for which everyone connected to the club, currently and previously, should be proud.
Our journey continued to regional league involvement and then – at least a year before planned – our participation in the National League. Now, that was a baptism of fire. I took on the role as team manager/coach at that point. After a very tough start, and with a very small squad of inexperienced players, we all adapted and managed to keep our place in the league for another season (we’re now in our 4th season and firmly established as a Championship team).
I look back and one of my proudest moments as coach was our first NL victory. It was no fluke, we’d deserved it and we celebrated like we’d won the World Cup. And it’s on ElectricEelsTV youtube channel !
As a parent and coach, it gives me immense pleasure to see players develop and enjoy their powerchair football. In Luke’s case this has resulted in him attending a residential college in Birmingham on a 2 year Sports course specific to powerchair football, run in conjunction with the West Bromwich Albion Foundation – the first of it’s kind in this country.
That pathway that started tentatively in the summer of 2012 has continued and who knows where his journey will now end. It’s changed his life.
That’s what powerchair football can do.