George Shaw, a nine year old Everton fan with cerebral palsy, hit the headlines around the world in early 2016 when a video of him showing off his football skills went viral.
The level of public interest that followed next took everyone by surprise – TV and press interviews galore, an invitation to Goodison Park by his favourite player Gerard Deulofeu, and scoring in front of the Gwladys Street. It even culminated in George being awarded Everton’s Goal of the Month by manager Roberto Martinez.
Behind George’s journey however is an equally inspiring story, as he’s a proud member of Cerebral Palsy United FC in Manchester – a unique inclusive disability grassroots football club, exclusively for people with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy United FC was founded by Sean Bailey in March 2015. Running the FA’s North West talent programme for cerebral palsy football, he noticed high demand from players both younger and older than the programme’s 11-16 age criteria. Determined that everyone with cerebral palsy should have the opportunity to play the beautiful game, Sean decided to set up his own club and Cerebral Palsy United FC was born.
How Sported helped
Having no previous experience setting up a community sport club, Sean was venturing into the unknown and approached Sported for support.
As a young organisation, Sported paired Sean with local volunteer Colin Taylor to guide his through the maze of administrative and funding opportunities.
Sean explains: “Colin gave us direction, shared best practices, his experiences, advice and a lot of general support, which looking back I can say was absolutely vital in getting us to the point we are today. It was a fantastic experience which has given me the confidence and knowledge to write funding bids and continue the growth of the organisation.”
With initial guidance from Sported, Sean went on to successfully secure around £20,000 in funding, including grants from Sport England and the Football Foundation, to get the project off the ground.
Cerebral Palsy United FC now offers a complete internal pathway, with a foundation squad for children as young as three to an adult team competing in The FA National Cerebral Palsy Football League.
Having established a successful model and seen huge demand for the club’s services, not only in Manchester but across the North West, Sean has big ambitions for the club – “We want to keep growing, offering more opportunities in more locations around the North West so we can create 100 more ‘Georges’.”
For more information about Cerebral Palsy United FC, please visit www.cpunited.co.uk .