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Published 21 October 2022 5 min read
Disability Football

'The role football has in my life is so positive'

Written by:

Gavin Harvey

In the latest of our collaborative series with Goal Click, Gavin Harvey takes us through his life in football with a disposable camera...


My name is Gavin Harvey and I live in Ipswich with my wife in a flat on the waterfront. I also work there as a caretaker with Genesis Estate Office - I thoroughly enjoy my job as part of the maintenance team.

I have Down Syndrome and am very active within football. I train up to four times a week with Wots Up Warriors FC (a disability football league team), Ipswich Town FC and Copleston.

I've now been involved in football for more than 20 years. It all began with a community engagement session at Ipswich Town and then with Inspire Suffolk, where a Down Syndrome (DS) team was launched. Sadly, it disbanded due to numbers.

My journey has been positive all the way through to now. I've always felt included and been encouraged to express myself ever since Ipswich Town gave me the opportunity all those years ago.

I have played for Wots Up Warriors FC for five years as one of a few goalkeepers that we have in the squad. We train once a week and play in tournaments every six weeks.
England Football x Goal Click: Gavin Harvey
Wots Up has always been very inclusive and provides opportunities for disabled people to be active and involved. The team has had a very positive impact and is held up as a great example of inclusion by the Suffolk FA. Wots Up has become a feeder team into other disability teams that have been set up.

With Ipswich Town, my team is pan disability and we compete in regular tournaments. The programme is delivered by the Foundation as part of community inclusion.

Copleston is a long-running club in Ipswich. The sessions and disability team were set up as part of a disability provision offered and delivered by Copleston. We train once a week and compete in tournaments.

The only challenge I have is wanting to do more and improve my game, so I train privately as well. One of my highlights was entertaining Portman Road with a half-time penalty shootout, which the crowd loved.

Winning personal awards is a definite highlight and something I'm very proud of. I was recently awarded the Active Advocate Award at the Active Suffolk Awards and the Spirit of Grassroots Football award at the Grassroots Football Awards.
England Football x Goal Click: Gavin Harvey
I wanted to capture the togetherness of our Wots Up squad during our season, to highlight the diversity within the group, and show the respect and happiness we all experience.

The squad are like family to me. They are very supportive, not just with me but to each other. We have been able to build strong relationships over time. I have known some people for many years but have also made lots of new friends.

This includes my friend Scott. Despite him being a fellow goalkeeper and the competition that that brings, we have a close friendship which I treasure. Being on this journey with him is important to me.

Football plays a massive role in the inclusive disability football community that I am part of. It encourages participation and inclusion of all members of our community. Football is for everyone.
I love football, I love playing and I love the social aspect of it. I would be lost without training, tournaments, and football events.

It allows me to be sociable, active and happy. The role football has in my life is so positive and I feel lucky to have all the opportunities that have come from it.

I want to be a positive influence and promote disability football. I want to play for as long as possible. Other people with Down Syndrome should get involved in football, express themselves, and be part of something great.

Disability football has more and more exposure, more opportunities and there is more participation. There is an exciting future ahead for all involved. It is becoming more accessible and easier to attend.
England Football x Goal Click: Gavin Harvey