FAST forward for Tees powerchair duo

November 30th, 2016

Two members of Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club hope their FAST Fund grant can accelerate them towards an England call-up.

Both Cath McNicol and Owen Swift received £2,000 grants from Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation to enable them to purchase highly specialised wheel chairs that will help them speed around the pitch in the fast-growing, fast-flowing sport of powerchair football.

The pair had already raised more than £11,000 towards the £15,500 combined cost of the two chairs they needed to help take them to continue to fulfil their huge potential in a sport that gives physically disabled adults and children opportunity to take part in a fast-moving, exciting activity.

Both Cath, from Middlesbrough, and Owen, from Coulby Newham, are now utilising the customised Strikeforce powerchairs that not only boast great acceleration but allow for much bigger ‘kicks’ too.

“Our grants from the FAST Fund were fantastic news,” said Cath, the club’s 41-year-old playmaker, who helped Middlesbrough to win promotion to English league’s top division last season. “It was quite a lot of money to raise but we worked hard with lots of fundraising events.

“It was fantastic news when we heard that we’d get that final bit from the Foundation. Now we can both focus on playing.

“It’s not all about the chair but most of the top players have the best powerchairs so it’s put us on a level playing surface.

“It gives us much quicker acceleration, faster reaction, one-to-one ball skills and a much bigger hit.

“We all have aspirations to play for England – so the support of the FAST Fund helps to keep the dream alive.”

The FAST Fund – which stands for Financial Assistance for Sportspeople on Teesside – was set up by the Philanthropic Foundation to inspire locals who have the ability to reach the very top in their chosen sport.

Another of the 15 talented local sportspeople to recently receive a FAST Fund grant is Paralympian Matt Crossen.

When Matt suffered a stroke at the age of just 23 he had to learn to walk and talk again. As a talented young footballer, his dreams appeared to be dashed.

But Stockton-born Matt bounced back to not only walk but play the game he loved once again – and he did it so well that he was selected for Great Britain’s Paralympics squad that took part in Rio 2016.

Now, boosted by a £1,500 FAST Fund, the former Stockton Town, Norton and Stockton Ancients and Marske player is in training for the 2017 World Cup in Argentina, whilst continuing to play locally for Billingham Town in the Northern League.

Other recent FAST Fund donations went to 12-year-old Middlesbrough boxer Sophie Haw (£500), Stockton-based Olympic weightlifter Kelly-Jo Robson (£800), Middlesbrough’s teenage judo champion Joseph McNeill (£500) and Ingleby Barwick hurdler Jasmine Clark (£700).

There were also donations to cross country runners Josh Cowperthwaite (£1,100), Daniel Currie (£750) and Philippa Stone (£750), Thornaby discus thrower Joe Martin (£400), Hartburn rower Beth Bryan (£500), Skelton sprinter Amy Carter (£250) and Marton hammer thrower Aaron Jeal (£250).

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