As part of the RAF100 celebrations, personnel from the School of Air Operations Control (SAOC) at RAF Shawbury in North Shropshire, supported the FA Disability Cup Finals at St Georges Park on 16-17 June 2018 following an invitation from the Football Association. This follows regular interaction with FA Disability football through Force Development training at Shawbury, where personnel have hosted teams in the past.
The FA Disability Cup provides a platform for impairment specific footballers to take part in one of six cup finals. The six impairment groups are: blind; cerebral palsy; powerchair; deaf; partially sighted and amputee football. There was also a competition for junior players with severe physical impairments, giving them the use of a mobility frame to enable them to play. As well as providing the opportunity to compete and enjoy the sport for all those involved, the event also helps to promote the opportunities that exist for all within disability football.
Flight Lieutenant Andy Mortimer, who organised the RAF input said, ‘The RAF Shawbury personnel in attendance were trainers and trainees from the SAOC, where tri-service training is undertaken in the fields of Air Traffic Control and Flight Operations. They assisted in the provision of the games and ensured that the wellbeing of players, coaches and supporters was maintained. In combination with the FA, all six finals took place over a two-day period and an enjoyable weekend was had watching some very talented footballers.
As well as supporting the Disability Cup, RAF Shawbury personnel were able to look around St Georges Park to understand the work and the 1st class training facilities that goes in to supporting the English national football team.’
Wing Commander Neil Hope MBE, who represents the RAF FA on the FA Council and is a member of the FA Disability Committee said, ‘the RAF personnel gained fabulous plaudits for their extensive efforts over the weekend. Everyone at the FA, as well as many visiting the event, were impressed by the RAF input and sent best wishes to the RAF for the 100th Anniversary. All of the volunteers really enjoyed the weekend and the introduction to Disability football’.