POWERCHAIR football has helped a disabled Sompting teenager to stay positive and cheerful.
The sport has had a great impact on 15-year-old George Holloway-Bartle but now he needs his own chair to help him develop.
Albion in the Community, Brighton and Hove Albion’s official charity, is asking Seagulls fans to support a crowdfunding appeal to raise the £4,225 needed.
There are a number of rewards on offer for people who donate specific amounts, including shirts, match tickets and places on soccer schools.
Dad Matthew Bartle said a new sports powerchair would make a huge difference to his son’s life.
“George has started to notice his limitations,” he explained.
“His family knows it gets him down but no one else would – everyone else sees a really positive and cheerful young man.
“The sessions he attends have had a fantastic impact. It’s so good to see him so positive about something. It gives him a different outlook.”
The charity runs dozens of disability sport sessions throughout Sussex, helping hundreds of people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to take part in sport.
George recently started attending the powerchair football sessions and Matthew says the regular sport has had a hugely positive impact on him.
“Doing sport with AITC has energised him because he plays with people his own age. He has friends and it has put him on more of an even keel from a social perspective.
“He loves contributing to a team – it isn’t something he has ever been able to do before. He scored a goal the other week and he was so pleased he couldn’t stop talking about it.
“The other players have happily accepted George. They are a bunch of teenagers having fun for two hours a week doing normal teenage stuff.
“He’s never had an interest in sport until now. I took him to his first match at the Amex recently and he absolutely loved it.”
As powerchairs are so expensive, AITC is able to provide only a small number for people to borrow when they start sessions.
For George to continue playing, he needs a sports powerchair of his own, modified to his particular needs, so AITC decided to make the teenager the subject of its annual Christmas fundraising appeal.
Matthew said George was born prematurely and everything was fine until he was four months old, but he then started having seizures.
“He went through a really tough time for a few years,” added Matthew.
“He had an operation which stopped the seizures but left him with profound weakness down his right side and he needs a wheelchair to get around.”
George’s eyesight was also affected, so has previously shied away from playing sport. Over the years, George has instead taken up more solitary activities like playing computer games and watching TV.
The appeal to fund a new Storm competition wheelchair is running until January 29 and nearly £500 has been raised since it was launched last week.
Albion in the Community is offering 20 soccer school places for children aged five to 14, in either February half-term or the Easter holidays, in return for a £30 pledge.
There are also 50 limited edition 25th anniversary football shirts available, for a £60 pledge, and the football club has donated five pairs of tickets for the Bolton game on Saturday, February 13, in return for a £75 pledge.
Visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/a-power-chair-for-george for more information, or to make a donation.
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