CP Teen Becomes UK’s First Wheelchair Referee

For parents of a child with cerebral palsy, encouraging your child to take part in a sport may not be first on your priority list – you may have even written off sports all together, especially if mobility is particularly limited.

While sports may have not been possible for wheelchair users in the past, an increase in accessibility and inclusion in sports now means that with the right skills, knowledge and confidence, there is nothing stopping someone with CP getting involved in a sport like anyone else.

This couldn’t be demonstrated better than in the recent story of football-mad Nathan Mattick from Cheltenham, who last month became the UK’s first wheelchair user referee.

Nathan was born with cerebral palsy, which left him unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair, but the teenager vowed not to let the condition get in the way of his dream.

The 19 year old had harboured a passion for football since a young age, but only recently built up the confidence needed to take his professional referee qualifications with Gloucestershire Football Association.

He said: “I contacted my local FA and they came back saying it was absolutely no problem, they said to do a course and that would qualify me for small-sided football refereeing.”

He now regularly takes charge of games for both disabled and able-bodied players on hard, all-weather surfaces, where he is able to dash up and down the pitch in his electric wheelchair.

He went on to say: “I was so nervous the first time I refereed at a game. I thought the players and managers would give me a hard time because I was in a chair and they would question why I was refereeing able-bodied football. But I had no problems. People with disabilities can do what able-bodied people do. We just do it in a different way. I have cerebral palsy but that doesn’t mean I can’t do things.”

There is no reason why children with cerebral palsy can’t fulfil their dreams, whether it’s in sports or something entirely different. Inspirational individuals with severe cerebral palsy have taken part in marathons, competitive swimming, hockey, and even one of the world’s most challenging events, the Ironman Triathlon.

There certainly isn’t a limit to what individuals with Cerebral Palsy can do – why not research online for more inspiration and resolve to get your child active this year!

If cerebral palsy has affected a member of your family then you may be entitled to compensation. Find out how we can help here.

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