Porcher: World CP Day a time to bring those with cerebral palsy together
England Cerebral Palsy team star David Porcher believes World CP Day provides an ideal opportunity to bring people with the condition together to help raise awareness of the condition.
October 6 is World CP Day, which aims to bring people from around the world together to celebrate and support those living with cerebral palsy.
There are 17 million people across the world living with cerebral palsy, with another 350 million closely connected to an adult or child with CP, of which there is no known cure.
World CP Day aims to ensure children and adults with cerebral palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in society.
Porcher, who plays for England CP, said: “Any sort of day for any disability is amazing. With the power of social media, we can raise so much awareness and days like this brings so many people together who have the same condition. I think it is great.”
Cerebral palsy is the name given to a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination, which is caused by a problem with the brain that develops before, during or soon after birth.
The impact of cerebral palsy can be felt in many ways, ranging from weakness in one hand to almost complete lack of voluntary movement.
- One in four children with CP cannot talk
- One in four cannot walk
- Half have an intellectual disability
- One in four have epilepsy
Porcher has cerebral palsy but grew up with a love of football which saw him play for Hibernian between the ages of under-12 and under-17 and has since seen him star for Team GB at the Paralympics in 2016 and now England CP.
What is CP football?
Players and coaching staff of the England cerebral palsy team give a detailed explanation of how the game is played and about the physical challenges CP footballers face.
He explained: “I am hemiplegic down my right-hand side. It is just mild now, but it was quite rough for me growing up when I was younger.
“I was told a few times that I should probably stop playing football and not to play football because I would just make it worse for myself in the l long run but I zoned it out and there was nothing stopping me when I was younger. It was football, football, football.
“As soon as I could walk, I was trying to kick a ball and was then kicking a ball all the time.”
He continued: “It is generally ok now. When I was younger it was worse but with all the strength and conditioning and a lot of other things The FA have put on for us, I have got stronger and stronger.
“When I was growing up I had to go back a year in school because I was missing it so much and it was difficult growing up, with loads of things wrong. But I managed to focus on myself and kept doing what I was doing.
“I have pushed myself more and more and it is amazing that I am now in the position to play for England.”
Cerebral palsy football is for ambulant players with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders, caused by issues such as strokes and traumatic brain injuries.
CP football has seven players on each team and is played on a smaller pitch, with smaller goals and for two halves of 30 minutes.
There is a classification system used based upon what type of movement the individual has and where the impairment is located.
At grassroots level in England, players of CP football are given a classification ranging from FT5 to FT8, who are considered to have the more minimal impairment.
There was a new classification system introduced in 2018 for international competitions, ranging from FT1 to FT3, again with the higher number having the more minimal impairment.
— England Football (@EnglandFootball) September 27, 2021
The captain of England CP is Matt Crossen, who was playing semi-professional football in 2013 when he suffered a stroke, leaving the left side of his body paralysed and he had to learn how to walk and talk again.
“Days like this are massive,” Crossen said of World CP Day.
“Although I don’t have cerebral palsy myself, it is a huge part of my life due to the sport I play in and it is close to my heart because I have seen what the effects are.
“Days like World CP Day are a chance for everyone to come out and be proud of their cerebral palsy.”
Crossen and Porcher have both played for semi-professional clubs in mainstream football but there is also a National CP Football League, providing opportunities for adults aged 16+, both male and female, to play within an impairment specific format.
The FA also run sessions for children of all ages, genders and abilities, plus there is a para football pathway which includes talent days, regional hubs and then national emerging talent hubs.