A powerchair football team is trying to find £5,000 for the upkeep of their equipment after being unable to fundraise due to Covid-19.
St George’s Knights are hoping to raise the money to go towards servicing and repairing their powerchairs – which haven’t been used for almost a year.
The team – which trains in Burton – is the only powerchair football team in Staffordshire, meaning that players travel from all over the county to get involved.
Laura Evans, from Whiston, has been a member of the powerchair football team for two years. She set up the fundraiser on February 14 and so far £350 has been raised.
Laura, 37, said: “The team itself has been around for a good few years – it’s the only powerchair football team in Staffordshire.
“We have three different teams based on different abilities and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people and exercise physically and mentally.
“Sadly we haven’t been able to play for a year because of the pandemic. We have all been shielding, and some players are very high risk, so until shielding is lifted, we won’t be able to go back.
“Even when outdoor sport was allowed, we weren’t able to go back because we can only use the chairs indoors. We’ve had no training or matches and we’ve really missed it.
“It’s been really tough mentally to go without it. For me personally, when I play, it’s a way for me to get out all of my frustrations. I can take it all out on the ball and it’s a great release for me.
“It’s also great to go to practice and see other players socially. It’s the one place that we can go where we can catch up with like-minded people who understand the issues we face.
“For the younger players – we have some who are seven or eight- it’s the only time that they are able to play a sport.
“We are like a family really, and it’s a great place for us to exercise physically and mentally, but also offload any issues to eachother that we might be facing.
“For some people, because of their needs, playing powerchair football with their team might be the only time all week that they get out and have that interaction, so it’s really important, and a lifeline for a lot of people.”
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Due to the importance of the team, Laura decided to set up the online fundraising page to try and raise £5,000 to go towards servicing and possibly repairing the powerchairs when the teams go back to practice.
She continued: “The chairs are not cheap to buy. They are custom built with modifications added for each player if necessary. The starting price for them is around £6,500, but depending on a player’s needed they can rise to anywhere between £15,000 to £20,000.
“If you’re aged 25 and over then you have to fundraise for your own, but those under 25 can get funding from charities.
“Every year we would usually do lots of little fundraisers, including one evening in particular where we’d have local artists and we’d sell tickets and whatever we made would go towards keeping the team afloat. Sadly we weren’t able to do anything last year.
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“The chairs have been sitting there for nearly a year now. One of our coaches, Warren, has been going in as much as he can to make sure they are all still moving and working, but when we go back, they will all need a service and possibly repairs.
“The battery is one of the biggest issues, like a car. If it’s not used for a long period of time it can run out, and without a battery we can’t go anywhere in the chairs.
“So we have decided to set up the fundraising page to hopefully raise some money to go towards any repairs of the chairs when we are able to go back. Some people have already done raffles and donated the profits to the fundraiser, which has been brilliant.
“Times are difficult at the moment with people out of work or on furlough, so even a share goes a long way.”
You can support the fundraiser through the team’s Go Fund Me page.