All this week we are raising funds for the Villa Rockets Powerchair Football club. And every day we're going to have interviews and stories about the club, often with players themselves. Today, Nicky Baker, who plays on the team, tells us what the chance to play for the Villa Rockets means to her.
I have been playing Powerchair football for around thirteen years now. For ten years before I was introduced to Powerchair football, I was sat on the sidelines watching my sister play, wishing that I could join in or get involved, however, also being in a powered wheelchair meant my opportunity for coaching was limited, as outdoor games with rain and powered wheelchairs do not mix well! I supported my sister traveling all over the country and while she was playing, a football development officer saw an advert for Powerchair football – I was intrigued!
Through another team my sister played for, I found out about the first ever Powerchair football tournament in England and jumped at the chance to play. I played for an organisation called Middlesex Young People’s Clubs, we won the tournament and I found my new passion for Powerchair football – the nation’s national game that I never thought I would have the opportunity to play myself. I loved it from the moment I kicked the first ball and haven’t looked back since.
Middlesex Young People’s Clubs merged with a team called Aspire, which I joined. I had ten amazing years at Aspire, including winning seven national titles. However, the time had come to move on and I wanted to join a friendly yet competitive club – so I choose to go to Villa Rockets Powerchair Football Club and have been very happy there for two years competing in regional and national league – helping them lift from 9th place to 4th place, as their regular first choice goalkeeper.
People often ask if I would take it, if there was a cure for my disability and the answer is no! Through Powerchair football, I have achieved my Level 1 in Coaching Football. I have travelled to places such as Japan, America and Portugal, as a player helping to develop the international game and world federation, and as an England representative player (although I have never played in an official competition – though I still hope to one day). I met my boyfriend through this wonderful game.
What does playing for Villa mean to me? I have the most amazing teammates, coach and support team (including the parents who support us everywhere). I feel part of the team: that could never be achieved through other activities. I can compete on a level playing field. And although I am one of the few females in the sport, my teammates still treat me as an equal.
Throughout the FA Cup final week, we're raising money for the Villa Rockets Powerchair Football club. With your help we can reach £5,000 and get them a new powerchair! Read about the club and our effort here, or simply click here to donate and help us reach our goal! And remember, if you donate any amount, you can enter to win a free Fabian Delph t-shirt from The Art of Football!