Last weekend saw eight Powerchair Footballers inducted into the FA’s Hall of Fame as the first Official England Powerchair Football Team.
The team that recently finished as runners-up in the inaugural EPFA Nations Cup in Ireland were invited to Wembley Stadium as guests of the FA’s to be presented with their first official England Cap at half time during England’s game with San Marino.
The FA first got involved with the Powerchair Football National Team back in 2011 prior to the FIPFA World Cup where the team finished as runners up. Since returning the FA have been working in partnership with the Wheelchair Football Association and took full control of the squad in July 2013.
The Powerchair Football team now benefit from regular training camps held at St Georges Park and have a team of full time staff in place to support their development.
The EPFA Nations Cup held in Ireland was the first ever European Powerchair Football competition and also acted as the qualification event for the next FIPFA World Cup. These championships were an ideal opportunity for England’s Powerchair Football Team to begin their World Cup journey as they go in search of glory.
Although England were the highest ranked side going into the Nations Cup based on their second place finish in the 2011 World Cup, the sport has continued to grow across Europe and nothing could be taken for granted.
The teams’ main aim was to secure a place at the next FIPFA World Cup and then test their squad development against Europe’s best and see just how far they could go.
It didn’t take long for England’s first objective to be met. A successful group campaign saw the team pick up 10 points from their five games securing a place in the semi finals and with that automatic qualification for the World Cup.
With the pressure now lifted of the teams’ shoulders, England could really expresses themselves in the Semi Final. The team we’re up against a strong Belgium team that they could only manage a 1-1 draw against in the group stage.
After a slow start, which saw Belgium take an early lead, the team quickly regrouped and upped the tempo to their play moving the oppositions defence around at will. The team equalised from a well-worked free kick routine before taking a 2-1 lead at half time. England continued to press in the second half notching three more goals to take confidence from a 5-1 victory into the final.
However England were always going to be up against it against a strong French side. The opening 10 minutes proved to be a close encounter with chances at both ends, however it was France who took the lead. After a string of defensive mistakes from England, France piled on the pressure taking a 2-0 lead into the break.
England’s errors continued after the break with a strong opposition looking to capitalise on their mishaps. England came under increased pressure that eventually proved costly as France ran away 5-0 winners.
The England team will continue their work at St Georges Park and will hope to be better equipped next time round. With the World Cup scheduled for 2015 the England Team will be hoping to have gained some much-needed experience ahead of their bid for glory.