How Jack Grealish helped a teenager tell him he 'wasn't disabled enough' to play football

Teenager Bryan Kilpatrick-Elliott had struggled to find a path into grassroots football, with his cerebral palsy preventing him from playing for traditional youth clubs.

After finding his way to para football and working his way through the English system based at St George's Park for almost ten years, Bryan found himself not only in a place where he could enjoy football again, but also seek much-needed support among his peers who have had similar life experiences.

Like all players in the para-football system, they must be classified at the age of 16 in order to maintain a level playing field for competitions. This involves a medical examination before a place for the next stage of the program can be allocated. Having received assurances that Bryan would be placed, despite his slightly milder condition, the Doncaster-based teenager was devastated to learn last year that he was not reaching the standard required to continue.

ALSO READ: I knew I never had a chance at Man City – now I'm a key man for England at Euro 2024

ALSO READ: Kyle Walker's brutal reality check to Jack Grealish over England snub raises questions at Man City

Accompanied by his father, also called Bryan, the pair left St George's Park in August last year for the final time, with no support offered to players who are told they cannot continue, and with a door closed to para-football in the future.

To make matters worse, the classification decision is final, meaning Bryan cannot play for any para football team. “He is not disabled enough for para football but too disabled for competitive mainstream football,” his father Bryan told the Manchester Evening News.

“They said it was not good news, that you were not disabled enough to undergo this classification decision and that you would not continue with the program. Elite sport is brutal at all levels, but as it was never considered or mentioned beforehand, you literally walk out of this building and that's the end of it.

Related Articles

Back to top button