Article and Photographs: Jonathan White
Team Photographs: Supplied with permission.
Nantwich Town Disability Football (NTDF) hosted a PAN disability football tournament on the afternoon of Saturday 13th August 2022 at the Applewood Arena 3G astroturf pitch at Nantwich Town Football Club.
The 2nd annual ‘NTDF/Direct Access Disability Cup’ tournament showcased local disability football, and also included an exhibition game of visually impaired players versus sighted players.
There were six teams in the tournament with PAN-disability teams and visually impaired teams from Nantwich; along with teams from Cannock and Leek who were invited by the organisers to provide a wide representation of disability football.
The winners of the NTDF/Direct Access Disability Cup tournament were Nantwich Town Wolves 1 who beat Cannock in the final. The final was decided on penalties which went to sudden death with goalkeeper Pete Stenton scoring his penalty, then seconds later making a superb save, to win the game for the Wolves.
The Plate Final, for the teams that finished bottom of the groups, was contested between the two Nantwich Town PAN disability teams with Nantwich Town PAN 2 snatching a late winner through a strike from Zak Beeston.
The special guest was Nantwich celebrity resident and TV’s ‘queen of clean’ Kim Woodburn who presented the trophies.
During the exhibition game the sighted players played the first half with no limitations against the visually impaired players, but in the second half they wore simulation spectacles that gave the wearer a visual impairment, so they could see what it is like to play as a visually impaired player.
Despite heatwave weather with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius the event was well-attended with dozens of spectators cheering on the players of all teams.
Craig Acton, Nantwich Town Disability Football Coach and captain of Nantwich Town Wolves, said: “I am so proud of everyone who played in the tournament in the extreme heat, everybody played their heart out. I am thankful for everybody who came along to help and support us, especially our under 16 mascots who were making sure everybody was taking in fluids and staying hydrated. It was a hard fought Cup final but after a slug of a match, myself and my team held our nerve in the shoot out to bring the trophy home and retain champion status. Bring on next year.
“The exhibition game went well, and the sighted players were surprised and a little taken aback when wearing the simulation spectacles, but they all played and said it was a worthwhile experience and how much they respect visually impaired players.
“I would also like to thank Nantwich Town Football Club for all they do and the support they give that allows disability football to develop and thrive.”
NTDF run three different teams at Nantwich Town Football Club: Nantwich Town Cubs, Nantwich Town PAN, and Nantwich Town Wolves.
- Nantwich Town Cubs (under 16’s) have their coaching session every Sunday (4-5pm). The session is aimed at under 16s male or female with any form of physical or mental disability. The aim is to create a fun environment for all and to nurture the children’s abilities to feed into the adult session when they turn 16.
- Nantwich Town PAN (adult pan-disability team) have their coaching session every Friday (7-8pm). The session is aimed at any person male or female aged 16 or over, who has any form of disability physical or mental. The session is for any level of footballing ability and are for those who want to improve their footballing skills and want to compete in an Ability Counts Football League.
- Nantwich Town Wolves (visually impaired) meet every Friday (7-8pm). This is a visually impaired specific team that plays in the national Partially Sighted Football League and are a competitive team with players of mixed abilities. They welcome any players male or female over the age of 16 with a registered eye condition.
The three teams all are sponsored by local disability company Direct Access and feature a wide range of disabilities including autism, visual impairments, heart conditions, PTSD, anxiety and depression.