Disclosure: I was invited by the FA to come and watch one of the England matches of the Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships 2015, and write a blog post and vlog about the day. I was NOT paid a fee to do this, although I did not have to pay to watch the game.
I watched the England V Japan game, which was also the first one played of the tournament.
In all honesty, I don’t need a whole blog post to sum up the day my dad and I have just had. I could explain it in one word, and that word would be wow. I don’t think that would make for very exciting reading though so I’ll elaborate. Please note that I will also mention the final score, so if you’re trying to avoid finding out what it is just yet, you may want to stop reading now and come back later….
Are you still here? Okay, let’s go!
Believe it or not, I have never been to a football match before. I don’t even think I’ve ever watched any charity matches or cheered my dad on when he used to play at the weekend back in the day. People who’ve been reading this blog for a while will know that I’m not exactly sporty, but when I was offered this chance I knew straight away that I couldn’t pass it up. My dad has been trying to get me to go watch his beloved Leeds United play for just about all my life, but I’m glad I waited to finally see a game.
The fact that my very first experience of the beautiful game live was seeing it being played by people with cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities made it all the more special to me. Going to any event like this would always be important because I would undoubtedly be doing it with my dad, but this was different. You see, my dad was the first person I remember telling me not only that disability sport was a thing, but cerebral palsy sport too. He sat me down in front of the Paralympics, (I don’t remember which one, probably Sydney or Athens), and made me watch some of the races for people with CP. I, probably only being about five at the time, complained that it was boring and I wasn’t interested, but then the shots on the TV went into slow motion:
“Look at their legs,” he said. “They’re knees go in like yours. Look what you could do if you wanted to.”
“But I don’t what do to that,” I said.
“I know,” he replied, “But just look what you could do if you wanted to.”
Needless to say I didn’t pay much attention at the time, but those words come back into my head on an almost daily basis now, and they never left my mind today.
I will now attempt to explain some of the rules of 7-a-side Cerebral Palsy Football
- Matches are played in two halves that last 30 minutes each. There is a half-time break of 15 minutes
- Underarm and overarm thrown-ins are allowed
- Players can also roll the ball in.
- The field on which the game is played is 75m x 55m and the goal posts are 5mx2m
- Each player is given a disability classification level of 5-8. For more details on the disability classification criteria, visit the Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships website
- Each team must have one class 5/6 and one class 8 player on the pitch at all times
For my first ever football experience, I chose a good one. A stonking 14 goals were scored throughout the match, all of them by the England team. By the end I was desperate for Japan to score because they worked so hard at keeping going. The goalkeeper managed to save quite a few shots at the goal too.
There were lots of other little things that helped make the experience as wonderful as it was too. For starters, it was my first tie being on the media list for anything, and, being a journalism graduate that was a big deal for me.
On a more sports-related note, we were also sat next to some of the other teams who were watch. A lot of the players from the Netherlands team, (pictured), were sat across the stairs from us, and hearing them shouting and cheering was lovely and very infectious. They were kind enough to let me take a photo too. Thanks guys!
Because it was the first day of the Cerebral Palsy world Championship, and also the first match, I was there for the opening ceremony too, so I got to watch some dancers, hear some speeches and see all of the 15 teams involved walk onto the pitch. I wasn’t expecting to get to be part of any of that, so that was a lovely surprise.
Hearing the crowd sing along to God Save The Queen, was a nice touch too.
I will admit that I’d never heard of the sport before I was invited to go spectate today, and, when I spoke to one of the players, Jake Brown, (who also scored two of the whopping fourteen goals scored by England today ), he told me that he hadn’t heard of it until two years ago either.
If you can, get yourself along to a game, or try watch them as they’re being streamed live via the tournament website.
My vlog about the day should be going up on my YouTube Channel in the next couple of days. I have a lot of footage to go through, but it should be worth the wait.