'Finding Powerchair football was a dream come true'
PARA FOOTBALL: FIND OUT MORE
Powerchair football star Dave Lewis is gunning for a place on the plane to Australia for the FIPFA World Cup next year, after a five-year absence from the England set-up.
Lewis has been part of the England Powerchair training camps at Lilleshall National Sport Centre this season and is eager to add silverware to his 15-year career in a sport that has changed his life.
Powerchair football itself has changed beyond recognition according to Lewis, thanks to continued investment from the FA and Lewis watched on as the Para Lions won the EFPA Nations Cup in Finland in 2019.
Like St. George’s Park, Lilleshall in neighbouring Shropshire provides the best grounds, facilities and equipment for disability and para teams, equally supporting all of the England Para teams.
“I think we can win the World Cup no matter who goes because the depth and talent in this country is phenomenal," said Lewis.
“But I would love to be part of it. I’ve got to be honest, that’s my dream.
Powerchair football explained
Find out more about Powerchair football in our short video tutorial
The Birmingham City fan, who is moving to Premiership champions West Brom this year from WBA Throstles, won his first England cap in 2017 and has been working hard off the pitch to put himself in contention.
“To get back in the squad after five years is absolutely massive,” said Lewis. “If you want to reach this level, you need to take it seriously.
“You need to put in those extra hard yards and sit down, watch videos and be really quite critical of yourself.
“I’m here for a reason and I want to stay. I know it’s a cliché but I’m purely focusing on these next two or three days and not much else.
“If you start thinking long term, you send yourself crazy and that’s where I’ve struggled before with my nerves. I feel totally different this time. I just want to play with freedom.”
As part of that commitment to all England Para teams, the Powerchair squad receive world-class coaching and support services and their progress will be embedded under an inclusive and diverse talent pathway.
Football Your Way is the FA’s landmark disability plan, which provides opportunities to increase participation and shines a light on the designated pathway for mobility impaired players of all ages.
There has never been a better time to be an international player within one of the seven national para teams.
Lewis recalled: “It was a different sport to be honest. In the last five or six years the chairs have changed. They’re built specifically for the sport.
“We can smash the ball from one end to the other but back in the day it was more like bumper cars.
“And things like talking to the media, that wouldn’t have happened five or six years ago. It makes you feel part of it.
“To be wearing the same England training top that Harry Kane wears and have the FA Disability Cup finals day in June on TV is massive for us.”
“The height of my sporting ambition was playing table tennis, so finding Powerchair football as an adult, it was absolutely a dream come true," he added.
“I’m a massive sports fanatic so to be playing, be part of a team and especially the England team, you have to pinch yourself sometimes.
“But I’ve worked hard to be here. I’ve never missed training. If you put the hours in, you’ve got the talent, push yourself and got a good support network around you, anything is possible.”
Great Para Lions goal in EURO Final
The Para Lions' Ed Common and Marcus Harrison combine to score against France in the final of the EFPA Nations Cup.