Powerchair player helps England win major international title
A footballer is celebrating after being part of an England team which clinched a major international title.
Gregg Baxter, who plays for Brighton & Hove Albion Powerchair FC (BHAPFC), helped the national team win the European Powerchair Football Association Nations Cup, which took place in Finland last week.
The Nations Cup is powerchair football’s equivalent of the European Championships and the Three Lions beat pre-tournament favourites France on penalties in the final.
Baxter made his England debut earlier in the competition during a 14-0 win against Austria, having been selected for the national team on the back of an impressive season for BHAPFC – one of four disability-specific national league sides run by Brighton & Hove Albion’s official charity, Albion in the Community (AITC).
Speaking after returning from Finland, Baxter said: “To make my international debut was my aim going into the tournament, and to have achieved that in the first game was incredible – a dream come true.
“It’s a surreal feeling to sit here today knowing I have not only played for my country, but that I am also a European champion.
“I can’t thank my teammates and the coaching staff enough for giving me this opportunity. We deserved to win after all the work that had gone in over the last few months, and we achieved it.
“I was very pleased with how the tournament went personally. Now I want to keep my place in the squad, with the World Cup in Australia in 2021 the next goal.”
Paul Brackley, AITC’s disability manager, was full of praise for Baxter and his England teammates, who included former BHAPFC player Matt Francis, who now plays for West Bromwich Albion.
Mr Brackley said: “Everyone at Albion in the Community is incredibly proud of Gregg’s achievements.
“He had a fantastic season for BHAPFC and thoroughly deserved to be called up to the England squad. To then make his debut at the Nations Cup and help England win the tournament was brilliant.
“We’re so pleased for Gregg and it is great to see his hard work pay off.”
Baxter’s success with England is the latest in a string of personal achievements from BHAPFC players.
Earlier this week Sam Elliott, who has previously been called up to the England development squad, featured in the launch of Brighton & Hove Albion’s new kit, while Seb Finch, the team’s longest-serving player, won the Albion in the Community Award at the Seagulls’ end of season players’ awards, having been voted to receive the award by the club’s fans from a short-list of six nominees.
And earlier this season, BHAPFC forward Lewis Hammans scored his 150th goal for the side, having already become the first player from one of AITC’s teams to reach the 100-goal milestone.
For more information on AITC’s powerchair team, or the 30-plus football sessions for people with a disability which the charity delivers every fortnight, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.