Wigan mum inspired by son's cerebral palsy to set up football team

Becki Greenhalgh's child Sam, 16, who attends Hope School, suffers from the condition

Friday, 4th June 2021, 2:56 pm
Becki Greenhalgh’s son Sam, 16

A mum has told how her son’s cerebral palsy inspired her to set up Wigan borough’s only children and young people special needs football team.

Becki Greenhalgh’s child Sam, 16, who attends Hope School, suffers from the condition, which means he has learning difficulties.

His mum said this means he acts more like a child of about 10 or 11 years old and can have a conversation but needs prompting.

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Children involved with the special needs team

He also underwent surgery to have his left leg reconstructed just before lockdown, but has now recovered and is back playing the football which he loves. And Sam was one of the main drivers behind his mum’s decision to launch Newsprings Ability Lions Inclusion FC.

The 39-year-old started the team about two years ago and it has gone from strength to strength since then.

Becki, of Fitzadam Street, Hawkley Hall, said: “It’s a football club for children and young people with special needs and is the only one in the borough.

“It’s also for children with mental health problems as well and started about two years ago.

Wigan mum Becki Greenhalgh, pictured with club vice chairman Lee Schofield

“We didn’t do much during the Covid lockdowns last year but since April 11, we’ve managed to get back to training and have gone from 12 children to 50.

“Most of them are under 12 and 99 per cent of them have some form of disability and special needs.

“There are children with autism, ADHD and quite a few who have really bad anxiety and self-esteem and self-confidence issues.

“My own son Sam has cerebral palsy and that’s why I decided to set it up to help him and other children.”

The club, which plays five-a-side is split into three sections. These are two under-18s teams, four under-12s and a new Cub team for five to eight year olds, who can move up to the under-12s when they are ready.

The under-18s team play in the Lancashire FA Ability Counts League, where games are played in Preston on one Saturday a month.

The under-12s have no league but they arrange their own matches.

Now Becki is calling for volunteers to join the club as it continues to grow.

She said: “We are after anyone that wants to volunteer

“We just had four volunteers start last week and the under-12s could do with more especially.

“Their job will be to give one-to-one support and get involved with the training.”

“We have four head coaches already but there would be an opportunity for volunteers to get their coaching badges if they wanted to.”

Since the club resumed in April, Becki said the response from the community has been “unbelievable”.

She said: “We’re getting six, seven or eight children joining every week.

“It’s also great for the parents as a support network and to make friends.

“We have a great set of parents involved and they get a break also while the children play football.”

The team train at Ince Rosebridge rugby club every Sunday.

To get involved contact Becki on 07368 106900.

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