Rio Woolf has attended the first ever England Amputee Football Association (EAFA) Junior Camp.
The eight-year-old, dubbed ‘baby bladerunner’, was born with tibial aplasia, a one-in-a-million bone deficiency, which resulted in his right leg being amputated through the knee.
That hasn’t though prevented the football fanatic playing his favourite sport, and having been selected by the EAFA to be part of the GB Junior squad at the first European Amputee Football Federation Junior Camp in Dublin last year, he’s now returned from the first ever junior event, hosted by the EAFA and organised by their head coach Owen Coyle Junior.
Participating in their inaugural training weekend on a 4G pitch at Reaseheath College in Nantwich, the camp saw more than 20 children from around the country take part in amputee football training sessions over the two days with each group (U12-16 and U7-U11) coached by experienced and qualified staff including EAFA National League players Ray Westbrook and Gary Marheineke.
Rio’s mum Juliette, said: “It’s amazing to see Rio’s confidence soar and to see him at his happiest when he’s with other limb-different children – especially when they are fellow footie fanatics – there’s a great camaraderie among the boys whether they’re training on the pitch or playing pool back at the hotel and comparing iPad games! Most of the lower limb amputees play on their crutches, but Rio still prefers to play wearing his prosthetic leg – we’re hoping he’ll try using crutches at the next event!”
GBAF coach, Shannon Howarth said: “Everyone really enjoyed the weekend, from players to staff to parents. It was our most successful junior camp to date.”
With more GBAF Junior events planned for the remainder of the year, Rio will be attending further events over the next couple of months in Birmingham, and hopes to be selected for this year’s EAFF Junior Camp in Warsaw in July, following his attendance at last year’s event in Dublin.