A team of disabled footballers are appealing for support to help realise their dreams of representing the North East at a European competition later this year.
Northern Thunder Powerchair Football team hope to travel to the European Champions Cup in Denmark in October.
However, the Tyneside outfit, which is based at Hedleys Sport, part of The Percy Hedley Foundation, need to raise £10,000 to fund the trip to Aarhaus from October 14-21.
Northern Thunder qualified as 2015 English National Champions after a fine domestic season, and will return to Europe aiming to go one better than they did in 2012 when they were beaten in the final on penalties in Paris.
The team has gone from strength to strength since it was set-up by the Foundation’s sports academy in 2006.
It is just one of several teams run by the disability charity, which works to improve the lives of disabled children, young people and adults with cerebral palsy, physical and communication difficulties.
Hedleys Sport aims to develop and deliver high quality coaching and increase service users’ participation in sport, while it also promotes the use of sport as a rehabilitation tool for ex-servicemen and women.
Northern Thunder will take a six-strong squad of both male and female footballers to the event but need help financing the transport commitments involved in disabled sport.
During the National League the players themselves finance the cost of competing with the average weekend costing approximately £350, and this is after they have purchased the specialist powerchairs needed at a cost of £5000.
Ed Common, 21, who suffers from rare muscle-wasting condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, hopes to compete at the Champions Cup having represented England at two World Cups.
“Playing Powerchair Football means everything to myself and my teammates and to be able to go and play against the best teams in Europe would be amazing,” Ed said.
“I would love to captain Thunder and hopefully we can go one step better and win it having been beaten by penalty shootout in the final. Please help us if you can as it means the world to us all.”
Northern Thunder’s journey to the championships will involve a fleet of vehicles, four days of travelling to and from the venue in northern Europe, and seven nights accommodation on the competition site. They will be away from home for almost a fortnight.
First played in France in the 1970s Powerchair football sees teams of four – a goalkeeper, two wingers and, like Ed, a centre – take to a standard sized basketball court, with players using electric wheelchairs fitted with footguards to attack, defend and “kick” the oversized, 13in football.
In the last 40 years the sport has spread to Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, England, the USA, Canada and Japan, with in recent years teams coming together to battle it out at a maximum speed of 6.2mph.
Please contact Adam Parry at Percy Hedley Sports Academy on 07525 081812 or email@example.com if you can help support this remarkable European adventure.