A member of the Chelsea FC Foundation's Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence has been selected for Team GB's CP squad in the Paralympic Games.
Josh Beacham (pictured far left) has been picked for Team GB's seven-a-side squad, despite the Centre of Excellence only opening in November. Josh first started playing football with the Feltham Bees in 2003 when he was 10. He has since spent nine years with Feltham Bees and competed across the country.
Now aged 19, Josh first played for England at 18 before he started playing for the Chelsea FC Foundation's Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence, which was set up at the Matthew Arnold Sports Centre in Staines. He has represented the CoE in matches against Plymouth, London and Lilleshall as well as attending GB training camps in San Diego and Russia.
Jeff Davis, The FA national disability development manager, said: 'Josh has been selected for the final 12 and will be a key member of the GB Cerebral palsy squad at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He has come through a gruelling selection process that included training camps in San Diego, Lilleshall and an international tournament in Russia. Josh is a key member of the squad and will make us all proud in London.'
The Foundation's CP Centre of Excellence held its first training session in November 2011 for 23 players who had been selected from three previous trials. Throughout the 20-week CP football programme, the players participated in a series of regional league matches as well as friendly warm-up games.
Pam Chandler, Centre of Excellence coach, said: 'Josh has been an absolute pleasure to coach, he is a great role model for both senior and U16 squads and has a lot of time to help and talk to our U16s about CP football, and playing for England and Great Britain.'
Rob Seale, centre of excellence director, said: 'We are all very proud of Josh. I remember seeing his outstanding performances as junior player in the pan-disability tournaments and he has been steadily improving over the years. It just goes to show that, with the right support, a player can move up through the FA's 'Disability Player Pathway' from grass-roots level to elite.'
Unlike other pan-disability sports, CP football is a like-for-like game with matched ability players and dedicated coaching specifically targeted to those with CP.
As with most physical exercise, playing football increases stamina but it also strengthens legs and tones core muscles, all of which are essential exercise for people with CP. Physical benefits aside, young people can also learn invaluable social and team skills through playing football.