And Steve Clarke offers his backing ahead of tournament
SPORTING Club Albion’s (SCA) powerchair team are putting the finishing touches to their preparations for this week’s EPFA Champions Cup – the powerchair equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
The Baggies will join nine other clubs from around the continent at the three-day tournament, which begins in Paris on Friday.
Albion have been drawn alongside Aarhus Rolling Devils (Denmark), AS Lorient FF (France), Vevey Egles (Switzerland) and host club Chatenay Malabry (France) in Pool A.
SCA qualified for the competition after finishing as runners-up in the WFA National Cup and third place in the WFA National Premiership.
Albion’s squad – which features captain Chris Gordon, Amy Wharton, Daniel Kay, Rich George, David Lewis and Lizzy Tullett – are heading to the French capital in a specially-adapted 54-seater coach on Wednesday.
And disability sports coordinator, Adam Crowle, is honoured to be leading his side out at the prestigious event.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys,” said Crowle.
“They have worked hard for the past two years to get to this point.
“They can’t wait and they’re absolutely buzzing for the opportunity to test themselves against the best powerchair footballers Europe has to offer.
“As far as club powerchair football is concerned, the EPFA Champions Cup is the pinnacle.
“It’s the best competition to qualify for by a long way so we’re really looking forward to it.
“It will be a special opportunity for the players to travel to Paris.
“We believe we should qualify for the quarter finals and anything beyond that would be a really good achievement.
“On paper we have what could be seen as the easier of the two groups but we won’t be taking anyone lightly.”
The Baggies began preparing for the tournament with a 6-0 triumph over Steve Clarke’s coaching staff back in April.
Head coach Steve lined-up alongside assistants Kevin Keen and Keith Downing, and goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely in the four-a-side contest.
Steve has been a great supporter of the Foundation since arriving at the club last summer and has taken a keen interest in the disability section, being the guest of honour at last September’s disability awards evening.
And the Baggies boss offered further support to the powerchair side ahead of next week’s tournament.
“The guys at The Albion Foundation, who run the team, deserve a lot of praise and I haven’t got enough words, or admiration, for the competitors,” said Clarke.
“To qualify for the Champions League finals is a great achievement and I wish them well.”
SCA’s powerchair team is run by The Albion Foundation, a registered charity that works in partnership with the football club.
The Foundation offers an opportunity for players to represent West Bromwich Albion and wear the club’s colours in a range of sports at an elite level by running basketball, disability and girls/women’s football sections.
The disability section comprises four powerchair football teams, a Blind Centre of Excellence, a visually-impaired team, three PAN disability teams, a PAN junior team and a Down’s Syndrome team.