Norwich City Powerchair FC flying high after promotion
A disability football team from Norwich have emulated their Canary counterparts from Carrow Road by winning promotion to the national top flight.
A disability football team from Norwich have emulated their Canary counterparts from Carrow Road by winning promotion to the top flight.
Norwich City Powerchair FC clinched promotion to the national top tier last week after four wins from four in their penultimate round of fixtures.
The step up, in only the club's second campaign, will see them playing against the best in the country next season – and could put members in the frame for an England call-up, according to head coach Jamie Robinson.
'This has been an absolutely extraordinary season for us,' he said. 'I've got high hopes for all five players in the team, and think we could have at least two players in the final England squad this summer.'
Powerchair football is a four-a-side game, played with a 33cm-diameter ball on an indoor basketball court. The club travel to Nottingham to play matches, but face a funding challenge for next season as they meet the cost of equipment, travel and accommodation for players and their carers on match weekends.
'We're trying to find the money to make sure we can continue to compete. We wouldn't be where we are without our sponsor, Kevin Foley, but we need more support,' said Mr Robinson.
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NCPFC beat promotion rivals Bolton Bullets 2-1 in their first match, thrashed Greenwich 10-0, clinched promotion with a 2-0 win over Swindon Rockets, then overcame Evergreen 2 in a 3-0 win.
The results mean the team of Ben Parkin, Michael Coleman, Johnathon Byrne, Rosie Hodgson and captain Max Bode are unbeaten in 16 games, having won 15.
'Next season will be a different class of football – they'll be playing against England players and the top teams,' said Mr Robinson. 'Coming up against the best will improve the players, the coaches and me as a manager.'
With the Football Association due to take over the England powerchair team in 2013-14, the sport could be set to expand rapidly.
'Next year will be a breakout year. There are powerchair users all over the country who are finding out about the sport and getting involved,' he added.
'The players get so much from it: confidence, self-esteem and belief.
'And they have achieved something special this season. They've created a legacy at this club.'
To find out about the club, call Andy Bode on 01692 597007.