Local lad, eleven-year-old Thomas Marshall needs your help to raise close to £5000 to purchase a specialised power wheelchair which will enable him to do what most young lads his age do – play footie.

Thomas with actor Will Mellor for ‘Together we will” campaign.

Like many children worldwide, Thomas is no different in that he loves football – and as for most avid fans, the only thing to surpass watching your team (albeit the wrong one in Thomas’s case! Boing Boing!) beat your local rivals, is playing ‘the beautiful game’ yourself.

However – unlike most children who simply put on the £90 footie boots they convinced Mom and Dad to purchase because Lionel Messi would be rubbish without them and so would they –Thomas needs specialist equipment which costs just under £5000 to enable him to do what millions of children his age are doing every single day.

Diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy at birth, his condition causes gradual weakness in his legs. Thomas, who lives in Stirchley and attends Victoria School in Northfield, discovered 18 months ago that there was a way for him to play the sport he loves, allowing him the freedom to express himself and meet and compete with people of the same age.

Powerchair Football

What is powerchair football? It’s a sport that is played indoors on a 5-a-side pitch with goals which are 19 ft wide and uses a 13″ football. Each team consists of four players and four substitutes, the match is two 20 minute halves.

Specially adapted powerchairs are used by each player, (this is what Thomas is fundraising for) using the powerchair to tackle, pass and to shoot.

Due to the high expense of the powerchairs, many players, such as Thomas, can only play/train when there’s one available to use from their respective club. This is a massive problem for clubs and players alike –the lack of equipment seriously hampers the development of teams and players.

‘Chair 4 Thomas’ Fundraising Appeal.

Currently showing great promise as part of the Villa Rockets development squad who play in the Muscular Dystrophy Premier League, not having his own powerchair is hindering Thomas’s progression.

Villa Rockets Team Manager, Clive Morley

The Villa Rockets Team Manager, Clive Morley, said: ”Thomas has progressed in such a short time and he’s proved he can play at a higher level. However, the fact that he doesn’t own his own powerchair and has to wait for the club chair to become free, is preventing him from practising in more sessions.”

Even though he’s showing the capability of playing at a higher level, future possibilities and achievements are secondary to what playing the sport gives him now.

Thomas’s Mom, Michelle said: ‘He was very withdrawn before he began to play, but Thomas has really come out of his shell and he’s making more friends. I’m desperate for him to keep up with his football as it makes him happy.”

Adrian, Thomas’s Dad said: “The Invacare Storm sports wheelchair would meet Thomas’ needs, but unfortunately we simply don’t have a spare £4,828 to spend on one. Thankfully, Caudwell Children are helping us reach this goal by giving fundraising support.”

Can I help?

Absolutely you can – a simple donation on his justgiving page ‘Chair 4 Thomas’ or via your mobile phone – to donate £5, simply text MARS63 £5 to 70070.

If you are unable to donate, we completely understand, but we do ask if you could share this article and help us reach as many people as possible to help Thomas achieve his goal.

Thomas said: “I am very grateful for the backing I have received from my friends at Victoria Special School in Bell Hill. I am now appealing to the wider community to support my appeal and help me keep on playing the sport I have come to love!”

Image by Jonathan Willier

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