Disabled man heads east for Paralympics

A disabled man from Norfolk spoke of his pride last week as he prepared to jet off to the Far East to represent his country in the Paralympics.Matthew Ellis, who grew up in Thetford, is hoping to continue Great Britain's gold rush as part of the seven-a-side cerebral palsy football team.

A disabled man from Norfolk spoke of his pride last week as he prepared to jet off to the Far East to represent his country in the Paralympics.

Matthew Ellis, who grew up in Thetford, is hoping to continue Great Britain's gold rush as part of the seven-a-side cerebral palsy football team.

The 28-year-old, who was diagnosed with the physical impairment at the age of two, arrived in China on Friday with more than 200 other British disabled athletes for the Beijing Paralympic games.

Mr Ellis, who now lives in Colchester and works as an insurance broker in London, will be helping to kick off the seven-a-side team's gold medal bid on September 9 on his 29th birthday.

The paralympian, who plays for Colchester United's pan-disability team, has been involved in cerebral palsy football since university and has been in the England team since 2005 when he went to the world championships in the USA.

Mr Ellis, who was educated in Thetford before studying Spanish and marketing at university and going on to become an aviation insurance broker for Aon in London, said it was an honour to represent team GB.

Most Read

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and aside from the football, the Olympic experience, camaraderie, spirit and ethic is something I can't wait to drink in. It's not every day you get to represent your country.”

“If you speak to a lot of people and they hear the term 'disabled', their instant reaction is to pity you. My job is certainly different and helps to turn some of those perceptions right around, and then when you throw in the fact I play football for my country, it all sounds a bit unreal,” he said.

Since he was picked for Great Britain's first ever cerebral palsy football squad for the Paralympics, Mr Ellis has been training five times a week.

His team is unseeded and has been drawn against Iran, Ireland and current world champions Ukraine for the pool games which will be played at the Olympic hockey field in Beijing.

His mother Rosie Ellis said the whole family were “really proud” and had their fingers crossed that Matthew would bring back a medal.

“We cannot believe that a local disabled boy from Thetford is going to the Paralympics. When he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was two-years-old, we were worried about his future, but he has done exceptionally well and is one of life's great achievers,” she said.