Giles Moore: ‘Playing disability football has been life-changing’
Goalkeeper Giles Moore discusses his journey and how he went from playing mainstream football in Somerset to becoming an integral part of the England CP squad and starring on the world stage
My earliest football memory would probably be playing for my Neroche Primary School team in Somerset. I was the goalkeeper for the school team and I still was when I moved into my secondary school team at Holyrood Academy, even though I had a disability. I have always been a goalkeeper. I am quite tall, got a big upper body, huge hands and long arms, so I fit the bill really don’t I?
I found it tough at times because having a disability is never easy, especially being a goalkeeper because you are the last man and if something goes wrong you are the one to blame!
Last year, I got to spend some time with young Rhys at Wembley and St. George’s Park after he was bullied on Tik Tok and things like that. Fortunately, I never had to deal with anything like that level but when I was playing for my local side when I was about 14, the opposition team spectators would say things like ‘shoot to his left-hand side because he can’t move’. I still got those kinds of comments even though I was one of the best goalkeepers in the league. I never really got it from opposition players but you still have it in the back of your head that you are different from the rest of them.
So playing disability football has been life-changing really. When playing as a goalkeeper in mainstream football, if you are the only disabled person on the pitch, you always have at the back of your head that you have weaknesses that even though you are good, that if you make a mistake then it could be because of your disability. Whereas when you play disability football with the lads, it is a level playing field because everyone has a disability.
When I found disability football, I was loving playing for my mainstream side but I always had in the back of my head that I could potentially let my team down but now playing for England CP, it has been life-changing.
It was my PE teacher at my secondary school, Holyrood Academy, who put me forward to go for trials. The teacher said ‘you’re playing for our school team, there must also be a CP team you could play for within the FA set-up’. So they rang the FA, spoke to Jeff Davis [the FA’s former National Development Manager] and I got fast-tracked through Somerset Disability, which was a disability football club, and then CP South West, which was the local and regional centre.
It was at Somerset Disability that I met Tony Rich, who was the goalkeeping coach there, and I am still very good friends with him. He said ‘right you can play for the England Cerebral Palsy team’ so I went for a training session with them and that was how I kickstarted my career really.
I started playing disability football when I was 16 and when I turned up to the England development camp, I got lobbed from the halfway line and remember thinking ‘that’s it, that’s that over’. But I wasn’t there long before they offered me the chance to go to the senior team.
The next tournament was the 2014 CPISRA European Championships and I got the best goalkeeper in Europe! So it’s fair to say it was a rollercoaster start!
There is no getting away from it, I struggle with my disability but we are strong people. Even though I am in pain day-to-day, you just become stronger to deal with it. It is hard work but you just have to be the strongest person you can be and overcome those problems.
My disability impacts both of my legs. So everything has to be adapted, like how I train. I am the lowest category player, so I am a class 1 player – where there are classes 1, 2 and 3 - which means both my legs are affected and it means I am the most disabled in terms of the categorisation.
But it is why football is such a fantastic sport because people with disabilities can go out and forget about their problems and just enjoy playing football with their mates.
Club wise, I’m unattached at the moment. Because of my legs, I find it difficult with the pitches near me being bumpy and my feet are a bit ‘unique’, shall we say, so I’ve been trying to stay as fit as I can with my own programmes away from the England CP camps.
I can’t wait to get going with the World Cup. With Covid, we all had to take a step back so this will be our first tournament in quite a while and I can’t wait to get out there with all the lads and do what we need to do.
Obviously, as a team we want to win a medal and that is very much the aim but we have to take every game as it comes. All we can do is play as well as we can and see if we can get a medal.
My first major tournament was the EUROs in 2014 and this has got to be my sixth or seven major tournament now so caps wise, I’m one of older heads despite still being only 24 myself.
Everyone in this squad gets along so well and there can be no denying that the quality is there. If you were going to pick a starting seven from players around the world, I think you would near enough be picking all of our names, so on paper, we have a very good squad and now it is a case of us going out there and delivering.
— England (@England) April 26, 2022
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The Para Lions’ game against Canada on Tuesday will kick off at 2.30pm BST (3.30pm local time), the match with Venezuela on Thursday starts at 11.30am BST (12.30pm local), and Saturday’s clash against the Netherlands begins at 2.30pm BST (3.30pm local).
Live streams of the matches are also scheduled to be available via the eSports+ website.
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