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Disability Sport testimonials

Alessio Verrecchia

Hey guys my name is Alessio, I’m 20 years old and I play with and help to run the Cambridge over 16 cerebral palsy football team.

I didn’t have the best start to life, I was in and out of hospital for the first few years and had a kidney transplant at the age of 2, my first introduction to sport was in 2002 when I competed in the British transplant games, the games are an annual event which lets children and adults who have either donated or received an organ with the main aim is to get more people to sign up to become organ donors, I continued to go the games until 2005 and have now gone to each of the past 4 years.

I was happy growing up and didn’t let anything stop me doing what I wanted, unfortunately my legs got tighter and tighter to the point that surgery was needed.

In November 2009 I underwent reconstructive ankle surgery as well as getting my hamstrings lengthened. The recovery was long and tough, I spent three months in a wheelchair then had to learn how to walk again but gradually things got better and my mobility improved massively from where it was before the operation.

After the operation I started to fall more and more in love with football. I started playing with my brothers in the back garden, with my friends at school, I started to support arsenal and go London with my dad and brothers to watch them.

Over the next few years life was pretty good, but yet again I had another obstacle to face, my transplanted kidney gradually deteriorated and I was eventually put on the transplant waiting list, amazingly it was just over a week before we got the call that a kidney was available, on the 13th November 2012 I received my second kidney transplant. So now with everything sorted nothing could stop me.

My dream was to one day play for a team of my own and just play football on a regular basis.

I found the Cambridge United cerebral palsy session about 2 years ago, I emailed Phil Mullen who runs the session and he invited me to come along, I haven’t looked back since then,

The sessions consists of kids and adults of all ages and abilities playing football and having fun. As I went to more and more sessions I found my football improved, I made more and more friends and my responsibility within the group increased. Now along with my friends Simon and Fraser I help run parts of the cerebral palsy session and hopefully gain my level 1 coaching certificate.

I now hope the group continues to grow and grow and for us to have our first competitive match in the near future.

(The picture is of me with medal I received when me and the cerebral palsy group went to impington for the football festival)

Cambridge United welcomed Alessio Verrecchia as the Ethos Community Hero of the Day for the Sky Bet League Two fixture with Wycombe Wanderers.

Emily Ward

Emily Ward, a parent of a participant involved with our disability sport programme, said: ‘ I completely totally recommend this. My Little Man is almost totally socially isolated because of his difficulties. At Phil's football sessions he's been welcomed with open arms, and supported to participate in a safe, structured, understanding environment. It has done WONDERS for his self-esteem. It speaks volumes that, returning recently after a break, he bounced in happily and was 'nutmegging' with the rest of them in no time."

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