England CP's David Porcher: ‘Don’t let any disability get you down…there are opportunities for everyone in football’
My name is David Porcher and I play for the England Cerebral Palsy football team and also for Harefield United. I grew up in Livingston, just outside Edinburgh in Scotland, and now I am living in west London with my girlfriend.
My earliest football memory was when I must have been five or six. I managed to walk out on the pitch at Livingston as a mascot and I did a few drills - I loved it. Ever since then I have wanted to be a footballer.
I started going to Hearts games with my dad and had a season ticket. I then got into football more myself when I was about five or six, where I was doing training and stuff like that. I started playing for a mainstream team when I was about ten and I managed to play mainstream football for Hibernian, which was weird considering I supported Hearts!
In the end I played for Hibs for seven years but unfortunately things didn’t work out, with injuries and stuff like that, so I went travelling and moved to Australia for a couple of years, before I came back and now play semi-professionally for Harefield United.
I am hemiplegic down my right-hand side. It is just mild 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 when I was growing up, I was kicking a ball all the time.
When I was growing up I had to go back a year in school because I was missing school so much and it was difficult growing up, with loads of things wrong. I had some hard at times at school and stuff like that but I didn’t listen to people and focussed on myself and tried to make myself the best version I could.
Now my condition is generally ok. When I was younger it was worse but with all the strength and conditioning, and a lot of other things that The FA have put on for us, I have got stronger and stronger.
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Football Your Way has been launched to help develop, improve and raise awareness of disability football in England
Growing up, there were a lot of people who helped me and one person who was really influential on getting me into football was my Grandad. I remember when I was younger, he was always getting me in the back garden and making me try to use both feet.
I phone him nearly every other day to catch up with him. He always asks how the football is going and tells me to have a great day. He has been massive for me.
And of course my Mum and Dad have been great supporters of me as well. My Mum always took me to football camps and my Dad has always been there for me as well, so I have been fortunate in that sense.
I got involved with CP football through playing with Scotland first but I didn’t play any competitive matches before I went to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. After that, Jeff Davis managed to get me on board with the England set-up and I have not looked back since.
Football is a great network isn’t it? That is where I met half of my friends and how I know people. I won’t be giving football any time soon that’s for sure!
In September I started at St Mary’s University, in Twickenham, where I am hoping to become a PE teacher and I have also started getting involved with the coaching side of things. So hopefully when I get older, I can stay in the football environment because it really has been a Godsend for me. It has shown me that there are opportunities no matter where you come from, no matter what issues you may have or anything like that. You can fight it and do your own thing.
It has been amazing travelling the world, getting to meet new people and seeing loads of people with different disabilities at events like the Paralympics - it was a real eye-opener.
I have had the best experiences ever through football and if it wasn’t for football, I don’t know what I would be doing.
To anyone considering getting involved with football, just do it. Don’t think twice. And don’t let any disability get you down. Try to focus on yourself, push yourself forward because there are opportunities there now for everyone in football and it is only going to get bigger.
Even if it doesn’t work out at the start, don’t give up because there will always be that next chance. It happened with me. I lost my mind a couple of times when I had those big knocks but it is how you pick yourself up from those knocks and push yourself on to try to do the best you can.
I have pushed myself more and more and it is amazing that I am now in the position to play for England.
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