Helping Chase to fulfil his dreams
Like most nine-year-olds, Chase Wells had always dreamt of being a footballer.
Chase, however, has cerebral palsy and when he was just 18 months old his family were told he may never be able to walk unassisted.
Understandably, that news was devastating. His mum, Candice, revealed: “For us as a family, that was totally world-crushing.
“Cerebral palsy is mainly to do with muscle tone, so his bone will grow quicker than the muscle. He’d be falling over a lot, he’d be in pain.”
As he got older, Chase developed a love for football. Unfortunately, the chance to play the game himself was not as forthcoming as his growing passion for the sport. That was until he found out about Albion in the Community (AITC).
Chase began attending one of AITC’s 31 regular football sessions for people with a disability – in his case, the charity’s fortnightly session for junior players with cerebral palsy or who require a frame.
To start with he would take part using his frame, but eventually he was able to play without it – something his family never thought they would see when faced with the heart-breaking diagnosis at 18 months.
Not only had AITC’s sessions helped Chase play the game he loves, it had also helped his physical development. And, due in no small part to the influence of his regular coach, Chase also now has real ambitions to progress within the game.
Kieran Green also has cerebral palsy and, like Chase, began attending sessions with the charity when he was young. A subsequent apprenticeship with AITC and coaching courses have led to Kieran, now 23, being employed by the charity. He also plays for Brighton & Hove Albion Cerebral Palsy FC in a national league.
And as Chase’s coach, Kieran is helping show younger players exactly what is possible with the right level of determination and ambition, regardless of your disability.
It is certainly a lesson Chase has taken to heart. Such has been his progress at his regular session, he has also been invited to take join a regional talent hub which AITC delivers on behalf of the FA; the idea is to provide high-quality coaching to young players with a disability with a view to them one day representing England.
“I train, day in and day out, every single day, non-stop,” Chase said. “It feels like the best dream I could possibly have.
“I’m not letting myself be ill, I’m just going for it.”
Chase (pictured alongside his Albion hero Solly March) is one of hundreds of young people with a disability who have been given the chance to play football by AITC.
For more information on AITC’s sessions for players with a disability, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.