Jake’s journey from Sussex to St George’s Park
Jake Heasman, 17, has been attending Albion in the Community’s sessions for partially sighted people since he was 10 years old.
Jake, a winger, is also proudly a part of the England set-up.
He is one of 30 players across Brighton & Hove Albion’s disability teams to receive a call-up to represent their national team this season.
After spending the best part of a decade with Albion in the Community, Jake finally has his dream of international football in sight.
As a football-mad 10-year-old Jake struggled to find a club that could accommodate his visual impairment.
However, after he found out about Albion in the Community’s sessions for partially sighted people, Jake knew he was in good hands.
“When I was 10 I was pointed in the direction of Albion in the Community,” Jake said.
“I played in some trials for the local talent hub for partially sighted players, and I started playing in Albion in the Community’s inclusive disability sessions.
“It was amazing to be able to go out and enjoy playing football every week.
“I struggled to find games in mainstream grassroots football, but with Albion in the Community I really felt included.”
Seven years later, Jake hasn’t looked back once.
In his time with AITC Jake has grown into a skilful winger, and last year he was given the chance to show his skills on the international stage.
“I started developing as a player and growing in confidence,” Jake said.
“It gave me a chance to show my skills and soon I was invited onto the England regional talent pathway, and then the national pathway.”
Jake has been attending England development squad camps since September last year, but recently he has started training with the senior squad.
“I was ecstatic when I was asked to join the camp, I was absolutely over the moon.
“It was a real ‘pinch yourself’ moment for me because I’d been working so hard to get to that level and now it’s finally happening.
“I’ve got to keep on working even harder to cement my place into the squad, and one day represent England in an international tournament. That’s the dream.”
He isn’t the only one to have earned international recognition; over the course of the season, 30 players from BHAFC disability teams have received call-ups from their national sides.
Among them include two players from Albion in the Community’s talent pathway – Efe Shimwell and Sam Marsden – to earn full senior caps for the England Blind Football team.
Two Cerebral Palsy Football players also earned senior call-ups to the Scotland team, with AITC also represented in England’s Deaf, Partially Sighted, and Powerchair squads.
To find out more about Albion in the Community’s disability talent pathway, visit: https://albioninthecommunity.org.uk/