A quartet of West Bromwich Albion’s Powerchair team have helped England win the European Powerchair Football Association Nations Cup 2019.
Chris Gordon, Matthew Francis, Brad Bates and Marcus Harrison were part of the eight-man squad that made the trip to Finland, returning home as European champions thanks to a penalty shootout victory over France in the final.
Marcus Harrison was the tournament’s top goalscorer, and goalkeeper Chris Gordon, who is Albion’s Player/Manager and Captain, says winning with England is a dream come true.
“It’s not really sunk in. I’ve dreamt of this moment for years. There have been a lot of sacrifices and hard work, so we’re all delighted,” said Chris, who made a crucial penalty save in the final.
“I’m thrilled for everyone but especially the likes of Brad and Marcus who had an unbelievable tournament. We’ve got four Albion players in this squad and I’m hopeful we can get one or two more in the next squad."
A part of Albion Powerchair for over a decade, Chris insists the charity's involvement with the sport has proven invaluable.
“I’d like to thank The Albion Foundation for their support. It’s been a long journey and they’ve given us a platform for players to build to get to this point.
"We’ve got a great structure and it couldn’t be done without having the support from the staff there,” Chris said.
Albion’s powerchair team have been hugely successful in recent years, winning a treble and double in back-to-back seasons, so being European champions is another accolade that these Albion players can boast.
Colin Gordon, England’s Head Coach, is hungry for more success.
“When we got together for the start of this tournament, we all said it was about the World Cup in Australia in 2021, that’s our goal,” said Colin.
“It’s an amazing, probably indescribable, feeling to win it and everybody should be very proud because they all played major roles.
“Albion have been very successful so it’s fantastic that those boys have gone on and won something for their countries as well,” he said.
Brad Bates has been with the Foundation since he was 11. Nine years on, he is a glowing example of the pathway available at the charity, according to Albion Powerchair Football Disability Coach, Dave Lewis.
“Brad started right at the bottom and has worked his socks off and gone all the way to the top, so he’s definitely one of our own,” said Dave.
“We should all be proud at the Foundation that half the squad was represented by our players - I think it says a lot about what we do here," he said.
Everyone at the Foundation would like to congratulate Chris, Matthew, Brad, Marcus and the entire England setup on their fantastic achievement.
To find out more about West Bromwich Albion’s Powerchair football programme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.