Service Personnel Interact With England Elite Disabled Team

Service personnel at a North Shropshire airbase have completed a day of interaction with players and coaches from some of the England Elite Disability Teams.

The event, held at RAF Shawbury, on Thursday 2 November, saw coaches and players from the Football Association and England Blind, Cerebral Palsy and Powerchair elite squads visit the airbase to provide a brief on Disability football followed by an afternoon of demonstration matches and participation events. 

RAF Shawbury personnel from the units School of Air Operations Control joined in with the England players as part of a wing Force Development day.  These days are designed to offer alternate types of training for the students and instructors from the school to their usual training as Air Traffic Controllers for the UK Military. The idea behind the interaction with Disability football was to raise awareness of the sport whilst allowing future controllers to see how the body can work without certain senses or capabilities.

The FA teams were led by James Watkins, the FA Talent Pathway Manager for all England Disability teams and John Pugh, the Head Coach of the England Blind teams, who travelled to Shropshire with some of the Elite Squads.  Players in attendance included Roy Turnham; one of England’s top Blind footballers, with 73 caps and 34 goals to date and from Cerebral Palsy football was Jack Rutter, the current England Captain.  Joining Roy and Jack were Dylan Malpas (England Blind1 Goalkeeper), Darren Harris (Blind1 Player), Sam Bull and John Langley (Wheelchair Football Association) and Matt Crossen (Cerebral Palsy).

The event was put together through the assistance of the FA Council member for RAF Football, Wing Commander Neil Hope MBE.  Neil sits on the FA and main National Game Board as well as being a Committee member on the FA Disability Committee, assisting with England’s Disability teams.  The event organiser was Flight Lieutenant Isobel Tierney who said; ‘this was an excellent event for all involved especially the students and instructors from the School.  The senses are all incredibly important in the role as an Air Traffic Controller and this training day really brought home how exceptionally talented the Disability Squads are.  As a thank you the School intends to assist the FA with personnel to help as stewards at the FA Disability Cup Finals weekend in June 2018.  In addition, we are all proud to utilise these fabulous events as part of the RAF celebrations and commemorations for its 100th Anniversary in 2018.

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