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Albion in the Community's (AITC) 2013 annual report, launched earlier this week, highlighted just a few of the 52,000 people who directly benefited from the charity's work last year. Matt Francis from Angmering was one of 2,200 people who benefited from AITC's disability sports programme which is now the largest programme of its type in Sussex.
In the space of just five years with AITC, Matt has gone from being a nervous 11 year-old taking part in wheelchair football for the first time, to becoming part of the England powerchair football squad.
It has been an incredible story for the 16 year-old who is affected by Syrinx, a spinal condition meaning he is unable to walk. He is categorised as a PF2 category player in powerchair football, (a four-a-side version of the game), as a result of having good control of his arm, head and neck movements.
Matt is part of AITC's successful powerchair football team which secured promotion to the WFA (Wheelchair Football Association) Powerchair Premiership last year.
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He first got involved in wheelchair sport in 2008, taking part in local sessions run by AITC, but only started playing competitive powerchair football for the AITC team in 2011. In 2013, he was called up twice by England to take part in special two-day training camps at St. George’s Park, the FA’s the FA’s new national training centre, after impressing in the team’s early games in the Powerchair Premiership.
Last week he was named as a stand-by for the England squad for the Powerchair European Championships in Ireland in July.
Recalling the moment when he got his first squad call up in 2013, Matt said, “I couldn’t believe it when I got the e-mail from the WFA telling me I had been called up. I had to get my Mum to read it out to me! Everyone who plays football when they are young wants to play for their country so I was really proud,”
“Without Albion in the Community, I would never have had the chance to have such an amazing experience.”
To find out more about Matt's story and download the full annual report click here.
|Albion v Charlton Athletic:|
Saturday 12th April, kick-off 3.07pm
|Albion v Blackpool:|
Monday 21st April, kick-off 3.00pm
|Albion v Yeovil Town:|
Friday 25th April, kick-off 7.45pm
|England Women v Montenegro:|
Saturday 5th April, kick-off 12.55pm