Rosie has the power after community rallies with donations
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
Unable to keep pace with new technology, Rosie Hodgson's ambition of rising to the top of her sport was in jeopardy until friends, family and local businesses stepped in.
Diagnosed with a rare form of primary lymphoedema at just 18 months old, she found an outlet in Powerchair football and reached the peak of her game, winning the Premier League and reaching the FA Cup final this season.
But with a new design of wheelchair taking over the market, Rosie, 17, had to raise £6,500 or face staying home during the upcoming Champion's League in Denmark.
After huge efforts from the community, she took delivery of the brand new chair last week and now has her sights set on the England squad.
'It has been amazing,' she said. 'There were so many people who wanted to help, with a lot of local businesses, friends and family getting involved.'
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With time running out, Rosie wrote 170 letters to local businesses asking for help.
'I got zero replies,' she said. 'I did get the feeling I wasn't going to be able to get the chair any time soon.'
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But, luckily, companies including the Cliff Hotel in Gorleston, Taverham Conservatories and Big Daddy PR provided more than £2,000.
Added to £2,000 from a fundraising page, £1,000 from a local event and £1,500 from friends of her grandmother at Lanchester Court, she hit her target.
With her London-based club, Aspire PFC, Rosie has now won the Premiership and faces Newcastle's Northern Thunder to compete for the FA Cup this weekend.
'Because we have now won the league it is absolutely crucial I had the chair to even participate next season,' she added. 'I think this is a problem with all sport; as soon as there is some new equipment everyone needs it, but not everyone can afford it.
'Everybody wants to be the next Messi of powerchair football, but usually that relies on a new piece of kit.'
'There won't be much of a summer break because we will all need to start training hard in the new chairs to get used to them because they are so different to the old ones. Moving up to the new one is incredible.
'The lower you are to the ground the less chance there is of you tipping out. It is easier to handle and the spin on it is much more accelerated.
'What is brilliant now is I am able to participate with the rest of my team and keep up with my social life. When I felt I wasn't going to get the chair I was actually quite depressed, so with the support of my team this has kept me going and possibly picked for the England squad this season.
'Before this I was very down, and I had to have hopes that I could still play sports even if it is in a wheelchair.'