Writes: Rhys Pountain
'Playing football means the world to me and EAFA has given me opportunities I would never have dreamt of’, those are the words of 13-year-old Charlie whose been selected to represent EAFA for the second successive year at this summer’s EAFF Junior Camp in Warsaw.
The youngster was just nine months old when he was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma – a rare form of bone cancer. After undergoing five months of gruelling chemotherapy, the decision was made to have rotationplasty.
“My old ankle is now my new knee, and my foot is the other way round and acts as a leg inside my prosthetic,” Charlie said.
“Basically, my entire upper leg is removed, and my lower leg is moved up, attached at the thigh and rotated. It’s complicated but it works really well.”
The annual EAFF (European Amputee Football Federation) Junior Camp is a unique event, with children from various nations attending alongside their parents and coaches for three days.
Representing your country is a dream for anyone and for Charlie he can’t wait to test his abilities out in Warsaw, he said: “I want to show off my skills against the best junior amputees from all over Europe.
“It’s a proud moment to be selected to represent my country at the age that I am and while I’m excited to spend time with my teammates, it’s playing the sport I love across three days that I’m most excited for.”
Charlie’s been involved with EAFA since the age of eight and has been able to witness the skills of national team forward and hero Jamie Tregaskiss first-hand, to which the youngster hopes that one day he can follow in his footsteps.
“Attending EAFA camps and knowing that everyone there is an amputee makes me feel like I am not alone, and everyone is equal. I love being involved in a competitive setting and developing my skills,” said the teenager.
“To one day play in a World Cup with England, would be a dream.”
For Charlie and his parents, attending EAFA training camps has accumulated countless hours of travelling across the country but for Charlie’s dad, Chris, it’s the togetherness of the EAFA family that overlooks the car miles and cost of petrol!
“From the start, it was fantastic to meet other parents who have travelled a similar journey and understand how we feel and what it’s like to have a child who has faced up to adversity and challenges,” said Chris.
“For Charlie being amongst people that are the same as him has helped develop his confidence and to see him smiling and flourishing has been fantastic.
“As parents, we too have made friends with other parents within the EAFA community, and it has been lovely to share stories and support each other.”
We wish Charlie and his teammates all the best whilst out in Warsaw and we’ll welcome them back to the Home of Amputee Football in September.