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Aspire to be the best!

On Sunday 30th June 2024, eight of the best Powerchair Football players will drive onto the St George’s Park court and battle for the Wheelchair Football Association (WFA) Cup.

The WFA Cup is the ‘pinnacle’ of Powerchair Football and is played at St George’s Park, as part of the FA’s Disability Cup Weekend where the best teams across the country compete for a trophy, following a knock-out stage earlier in the season. Every two years the Cup’s winners automatically qualify for the European Champions Cup which no English team has yet won. 

This year, the cup has been rebranded to be called The John Good Group WFA Cup, endorsed by The John Good Group who are committed to promoting inclusivity and excellence within Powerchair Football.

Defending their title will be Aspire Powerchair Football Club captained and managed by England Captain, Jon Bolding. Since breaking onto the scene in the 2010/11 season, where they won the first ever WFA Cup, Aspire have remained dominant and are now the most decorated club in the country. Trying to put an end to their recent winning spree is West Bromwich Albion Powerchair Football Club who themselves have many a WFA cup in their trophy cabinet. Emphasising the talent on display, both teams will be managed by an England player with goalkeeper Chris Gordon taking the reins of West Brom to face Bolding’s Aspire.

Becoming the first ever team to join the WFA in 2004, after being founded two years prior, Aspire Powerchair Football Club have since had a very successful run, racking up a total of six WFA cups. This season means a little more to them as they are on track to become the first ever English side to win the quadruple, following on from last season’s treble successes with only the Champions League left to be won.

Captain Jon Bolding shared the feelings about the quadruple within his team stating “it would be massive for us and massive for English football really as nobody has ever done it before”. Aspire winger Rosie Dack added that they all “work so hard and sacrifice a lot…so it would feel like it paid off and [they] would have completed it all”.

Aspire have an incredibly strong team consisting of multiple international players who have previously been part of the teams huge success. Dack played particular homage to goalkeeper Tom Kelly who has been one of the most successful players in his position this season, keeping the most clean sheets in the league, she ultimately described him as “reliable”.

Outfield, the team have 15 year old “Starboy” Dan McLellan who has already represented his country at the World Cup. Smiling down the camera, his captain proudly expressed “he can do stuff that when I was his age, I wouldn’t have ever been able to do.”

West Brom will also be travelling with an abundance of experience including new signing Valentino Zegarelli who transferred over from Argentina after impressing in the recent World Cup. Zegarelli has already made his mark on English Powerchair Football after scoring a hat trick on his debut weekend at the National League. Aspire are yet to play against Zegarelli though the two teams are set to play each other two weeks prior to the final in the Champions League, where they will first play against the Argentinian.

The England captain Bolding, who has been in this sport since 2002, enthusiastically stated how he “would happily welcome any player from abroad, there’s quality players all over the world and to play in our league would be an honour.” He went on to say he hopes international transfers will help the sport to grow as they can learn “how other countries play Powerchair Football.”

The last time the two finalists met, they put on a nail biting performance with West Brom who were down to three men producing a phenomenal come back to draw the game 2-2. Reflecting on the game, Bolding acknowledged they “didn’t manage the game well at all, and in the end this lost us the game.”

Looking forward to the final, Dack described the team as “consistently cool, calm and collected” on their journey to St George’s Park. Although they have already developed an impressive legacy within the sport, Dack mentioned it’s also “about building friendships and becoming a family” emphasising the community element of Powerchair Football.

On the lead up to the final, Aspire faced a number of competing teams but it wasn’t until they got closer to the final that they started facing their biggest adversaries including Teesside and West Bromwich Albion. As they have played each other on numerous occasions, the two finalists Aspire and West Brom have become familiar with each other’s style of play with the two managers representing England together on multiple occasions.

After having a successful group and knockout stage, Aspire progressed to the quarter final where they faced Hull and East Yorkshire Powerchair Football Club. Aspire went into the game confidently following their win over the Yorkshire based team that occurred a few weeks prior; this confidence helped them progress further with a ruthless 10-0 victory.

In the semi-final, Aspire faced Teesside who currently sit third in the National League table. The game was described by Bolding as a “50/50” match after Aspire started strong and got an early goal. Both teams had many chances but Bolding expressed “luckily for us, they missed theirs” he went on to describe the whole experience as “a little nervy towards the end.”  Despite Teesside also having two of this season’s highest goal scorers in Tyler Reeve and Ed Common, who both have over 10 goals, it was not enough for them to progress to the final.

The WFA Cup final is huge for the Powerchair Football community as it is the only game which is broadcasted live on TNT Sport. Bolding hopes “both teams will play expansive and attractive football…and it will be great for people to see goals and good technical ability as the two best teams face each other.”

This is surely one you won’t want to miss!


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