When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Sam's wheelchair soccer side in premiership action
WHEELCHAIR football isn’t in the Paralympics yet.
But when it is, you can be sure that this lad will be trying out for England.
Sam Bailey, from Wantage, is aiming to take his team, Reading Powerchair FC, to the top of their league.
Today begins the Premiership League – five weekends in Nottingham where 12 teams fight it out to be named the best in the country.
The game is played four-a-side and rather than kicking the ball, players spin their chairs rapidly to chip it into the goal.
Sam, 16, who plays in goal, said: “It’s faster than normal football and it’s more demanding.
“You are always on the move, and because you can’t have two players against one you’re always having to dodge out of the way quickly.”
Sam is a founding member of the club, which was started three years ago by a group of wheelchair users. They now have nine players.
He has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and has been using a wheelchair since he was 10.
At first, he didn’t even realise there were sports for wheelchair users.
He went along for try-outs, the team was formed, but Sam was still using his NHS-issue wheelchair – a pretty standard affair.
What was needed to excel on the pitch was the best in the range – the Storm Powerchair.
A charity called Caudwell Children covered 80 per cent of the cost of the £4,460 piece of sports kit.
It can go faster than a normal electric chair – up to 7mph – and has a front bumper to deflect the ball.
In November, Sam got another chair with help from the same charity, this one worth £21,000.
The Etac is a something of a revolution in wheelchairs as it allows users to stand up.
That means they can be at eye level with others, reach things from high places and it also allows them to lie down.
As well as enabling him to stretch his limbs, with the health benefits that brings, it gives Sam independence he never thought he would regain.
“It has made things easier,” he said, “When I stand up, I am at eye level and I can talk to people face-to-face.
“It means I’m not talked down to.”
Sam’s mum Penny Bailey said: “It has given him independence.”
On Monday Sam will start a BTEC in Information and Communication Technology at Abingdon and Witney College.
Caudwell Children supports disabled children in Oxfordshire.
Comments are closed on this article.