Nine-year-old Rio Woolf was one of 15 players called up to join the England Amputee Football Association (EAFA) Junior Squad, who attended the second European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) Junior Training Camp last week.
Hosted by Amp Futbol Polska in Warsaw, Poland, the aim of the camp was to give children under the age of 16 the opportunity to play football in a structured and fun environment whilst having the chance to meet new friends.
Organised with support from UEFA and the Polish FA (PZPN), more than sixty juniors – aged 5-16-years-old – from nine different countries (England, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Scotland, Netherlands and Turkey) came together at an outstanding football facility – SoccerArena in Warsaw – a sporting centre of excellence which boasts seven 3G pitches.
The three-day camp, which was organised by EAFF and Amp Futbol Polska, was open to juniors from all amputee football countries and is paving the way for the future of amputee football by giving the sport’s rising stars high quality and intensive training from a young age.
Rio’s mum Juliette said: “Rio had the most fantastic time during the three-day training event, receiving excellent coaching, improving his skills, catching up with old friends, making new friends and having lots of fun. His confidence was boosted enormously by playing football with other limb-different children.
“As proud parents, Trevor and I had a wonderful time watching our son in his element training at the biggest Junior Amputee Football event of the year, and as Rio’s late great grandfather travelled to England with his family as a baby from a small town in Poland at the turn of the last century, it was very special for us to have time between Amputee Football training sessions to see the beautiful Old Town of Warsaw and so moving to visit The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews and The Holocaust Memorial.
“We’re so grateful to the EAFF for arranging this amazing event, in particular Mateusz Widlak (EAFF President) and Simon Baker (EAFF General Secretary, Irish Amputee Football Association founder and Captain of the IAFA International Team), for all their hard work, and to Owen Coyle (EAFA England Coach), Shannon Howarth (EAFA National Development Officer and Coach) and Gary Marheineke (EAFA England Senior Squad Goalkeeper and Coach) for co-ordinating all the logistics for the EAFA Juniors to attend this incredible training weekend.
“All the children loved every minute of the EAFF Junior Camp and enjoyed amazing experiences around Amputee Football to go back home and share with friends and family.”
* Parents with limb-different children who would like to get involved should contact the EAFA via their WEBSITE or check out the EAFA social media feeds.