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Published 23 January 2024 4 min read
England Para Teams

'Everyone within the Para programme is in it together'

Written by:

Frank Smith

Adam Lione discusses the warm-weather training camp in Tenerife and why it is so important to all the players

England Partially Sighted’s Adam Lione said players feel honoured to be selected for this week’s warm-weather training camp and believes the trips to Tenerife are helping to create a special ‘One Para’ togetherness among the squads.

Lione was part of the group who spent the best part of a week in Tenerife in January 2023 and on Sunday once again flew out with around 60 England Para players and staff.

The Partially Sighted squad have been joined by members of the Blind Men, Blind Women, Cerebral Palsy, Deaf Men and Deaf Women teams in the Canary Islands for what staff are calling a mid-season pre-season.

England Para Lions players training in Tenerife
England Para Lions players training in Tenerife

Last year Lione headed to Tenerife six weeks after a groin operation so was unable to take part in some of the intense fitness work so he is relishing the chance to go full-tilt this time around.

He said: “I'm ultra competitive and I love to push my body to the absolute max, so I have been looking forward to going all in on these tough sessions.

“Last year’s Tenerife camp was a really good reset for all of us and set us up for the year.

“It is in my nature to train regularly and eat well generally anyway, so it is not like I need to go and lose a load of weight or get fit – because I eat really well, train most days and play three times a week – but everyone will have enjoyed themselves over Christmas and I think Tenerife provides us with a chance to reset as a big group as part of the para programme and get everyone together.

“There is that weird element of we're going to go through this really tough period together and we're going to have to drag each other through it but when you come to the end of it, you're all so bonded together.

“When we went last year, even though I didn't do everything because of my recovery, I made some really good friends from it and met some amazing people.

England Blind Women squad during the training camp in Tenerife
England Blind Women squad during the training camp in Tenerife

“I just feel really honoured to be part of the group going to Tenerife so not only does it give you that mid-season pre-season feeling of losing some weight, getting fit and the other benefits, it also really brings you together as a group, and really makes you aware of what we're all working towards together.”

The Para Lions flew out to Tenerife on Sunday before starting the first of four days of double sessions on Monday, with the morning practice being team-focused before the whole group get together for fitness work in the afternoon.

Further recovery sessions and medical work takes place throughout the day before the squads reunite in the evening for dinner and social activities.

Members of the England Deaf and Cerebral Palsy teams training together
Members of the England Deaf and Cerebral Palsy teams training together

Last year the Tenerife trip was the beginning of a busy 12 months for the Para Lions, with all seven of our sides playing in major tournaments.

June saw the Cerebral Palsy team reach their first major final at the IFCPF World Championship before both the Partially Sighted and Powerchair teams went agonisingly close to winning their respective World Cups.

Lione became one of the only men in our history to score a hat-trick in the final of a World Cup in August and the Para Lions looked set to win a maiden World Championship against Ukraine before the opposition equalised with less than four minutes remaining and then grabbed the winner with only 22 seconds of extra-time remaining.

This year only two – or possibly three – of our Para Lions teams will be in major tournaments but the Tenerife trip remains hugely important as players and staff look to improve the teams – and programme as a whole – even further, with the squads now meeting up twice a month.

England Blind Women international Ayman Hafiz during the Para Lions' training camp
England Blind Women international Ayman Hafiz during the Para Lions' training camp

Lione said: “I think we're in a really special place with the England Para programme. I couldn't be more appreciative to Cath Gilby, James Watkins and the rest of the staff at the FA for the way they've driven the programme in the last couple of years.

“We are in a really positive space, and I think that was proven by how the teams did last year – we reached three major finals and there was a bronze medal for Deaf Women too.

“Everyone within the programme is in it together, everyone wants to see each other do well and everyone is just so happy for each other. You just want to know how everyone's getting on and I think there are some really good values and beliefs being driven throughout the programme.”

Watkins on importance of training camp