The captain of Brighton & Hove Albion Powerchair FC (BHAPFC) is confident he can end an outstanding season by winning the World Cup with England.
Matt Francis only began playing the sport seven years ago, but has already become one of the best players in the domestic game.
His impressive form for BHAPFC, who are run by Albion in the Community and compete in the Muscular Dystrophy UK Premiership, has seen him secure a spot in the England squad ahead of the World Cup, which takes place in Florida, America.
England’s first game is against Ireland on 6th July and Francis, who will wear the number 10 shirt for his country, is optimistic the team will still be involved by the time the final takes place three days later.
Ten teams will compete for the trophy, with England grouped with Ireland, France, Australia and Canada.
And Francis, who is expected to make his England debut in the opening game, is adamant the Three Lions are travelling to the States with one aim: to win the World Cup.
He said, “There will be a lot of very good teams at the World Cup but if we play as well as we know we can, we have a really good chance. It is important to get off to a good start and you can’t underestimate anyone, but we’ll be disappointed if we don’t at least make the semi-finals.
“Our training camps have gone very well and we have also been working closely with a sports psychologist. Playing at a World Cup is going to be massive for all of us, so we have been trying to develop techniques to help us focus on the games rather than the occasion and to help us move on from any mistakes.
“The support we have received has been fantastic. Now it is up to us to perform on the pitch.”
Success for England would prove a fitting end to a fantastic season for Francis. The 19-year-old scored 25 goals and was voted man of the match by opponents 17 times in 22 league games for BHAPFC this season. He was also part of the BHAPFC team that made their debut in the Champions Cup – powerchair football’s equivalent of the Champions League.
“Winning the World Cup would be amazing,” he said. “When my friend Seb first convinced me to go along to a powerchair football session I was sceptical and didn’t think I would enjoy it. Now I am about to play for England at the World Cup.
“Representing England will be an incredibly proud moment for me. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. I certainly couldn’t have achieved all this without them.”