CP Sport are collecting a range of profiles from participants that play CP and/or Frame Football, as well as profiles from coaches, physiotherapists and parents of players to use as promotional material during the 2022 Football World Cup. We aim to encourage more people with CP to take part in sport by sharing positive stories and delivering opportunities.

Name: Eoin McNamee

Role: Coach and Physiotherapist

Club/Recreational Centre: Coplestonians FC Frame Football Suffolk

About me: I work as an Advanced Critical Care Practitioner in a local NHS hospital. I came across frame football in 2017 when working as a children’s physiotherapist. I was looking for ways to encourage the children and young people I was working with to engage in activities that would carry over the skills they were developing in clinic sessions into fun activities they could do with their peers.

I volunteered with Basildon Frame Football and was hooked from there. In that time I’ve qualified as an FA certified football coach with the support from Steve, Kev, Mark and Terry at Basildon as well as attending a number of national tournament events and my passion and drive to see this sport develop continues to grow from each of these experiences. Unfortunately, a move to Suffolk meant coaching with Basildon was no longer feasible and so I set about looking for another group to volunteer with. Surprisingly there wasn’t one so with the support of my county FA I linked with Coplestonians FC and we collaborated to set up our first frame football sessions in September 2021.

The taster sessions were so well attended a team was quickly established and Frame Football Suffolk was formed. Our group meets every fortnight with attendees ranging from ages 4-12. We use fun games to develop skills in football with favourites like ‘hungry hippo’, ‘the laser game’ and ‘traffic lights’ being in popular demand. We’ve attended our first national tournament earlier this year and have received massive support from our local community to purchase ‘Game Frames’ in our team colours for every child. It’s been a busy first year topped off with a recognition of our efforts winning ‘Suffolk Grassroots Project of the Year 2022’.

What do I enjoy about Frame Football: Seeing the children I coach develop life skills far beyond that of their football skills. For example:

  • Improve cardiovascular fitness – measured by decreased amount of rest periods and duration of rest periods required
  • Increased speed and agility with walking frames – children have developed ability to unlock fixed front wheels to turn. Ability to manoeuvre frames around obstacles during dribbling and turning ability have all improved
  • Improve gross motor strength and function – evident in longer passing ability, shooting power and distance covered, ability to tackle, motor planning required to dribble a ball and utilise different methods of passing for example front pass, side pass, back heel
  • Improved social skills. A number of attendees language and speech skills have greatly improved as well as their confidence in interacting with their peers.

I love seeing the community of parents, siblings and family member that develop around these young people and believe in the positive impact this will have long term for each and every one of these people and our community through:

  • Peer support and friendship with others with similar life experiences
  • Spreading the word of the benefit of accessible sport for everyone
  • Convincing policy makers and funding bodies to continue to drive change to improve provision of accessible sport and activity

The impact football has had on my life: Seeing the benefit of frame football for my team has had a positive impact on my own football journey. Practising what I preach I’ve got involved in a 5 a side group at work and am slowly but surely seeing the benefits on my physical fitness as well as helping unwind after a busy working week.

My ambitions in football: To grow the provision of accessible football opportunities in Suffolk through breaking down boundaries between organisations and ensuring that those with powers in organisational change and funding provision collaborate with those at the grassroots level to facilitate more opportunities. My goals for 2023 are to establish a power chair football group.

What I would say to others with cerebral palsy about playing football: Get involved.

If you are interested in pursuing opportunities in CP football, frame football, adult or junior – please use the FA’s Find Football tool to locate sessions or clubs in your area, or email rich.kerr@cpsport.org