Footballers

European call up for young Bushey sports star

A young football fan from Bushey was celebrating earlier after he was one of just 15 lucky players called up to attend the second European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) Camp in Poland.

Rio Woolf was selected for the event by the England Amputee Football Association (EAFA) Junior Squad.

Rio was born with a rare condition, tibial aplasia, meaning he had no tibia knee or ankle joints and had to have his leg amputated at just 14 months old – but this hasn’t stopped him following his dream.

The three-day camp gives the sport’s rising stars high quality and intensive training from a young age.

Rio’s mother Juliette said she was delighted her son was able to take part.

She commented: “Rio and the EAFA/EAFF Juniors have ambitions to compete for their country in Amputee Football at the Paralympic Games in 2024!

“We are 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 EAFA for co-ordinating all the logistics.”

During the three day training event, Rio received coaching, improved his skills, caught up with old friends, made new friends and had lots of fun. Juliette said his confidence was boosted by playing football with other limb-different children and revealed the trip had extra significance for her family.

She said: “As Rio’s late great-grandfather travelled to England with his family as a baby from a small village in Poland at the turn of the last century, it was very special for us to have time between 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.”

Rio really wants more new juniors to start playing Amputee Football and is urging anyone interested to contact EAFA via www.theeafa.co.uk.

The second EAFA Junior Training Camp has just been announced for August 19-20 at Reaseheath College in Nantwich and although Rio is taking part in another event on August 19, he is so keen to attend that his dedicated parents will drive up to the team’s hotel in Crewe for him to join in the second day’s training.

Picture courtesy of Macjej Gillert

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