A Peterborough man has fulfilled every footballer’s dream of being picked to play for his country in the World Cup.
Goalkeeper Ryan Kay (18) from Stanground has been included in the England team to play in the IFCPF (International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football) World Championships between June 16-28.
England are hosting the first international tournament to be hosted at St George’s Park, the English Football Association’s national football centre at Burton-upon-Trent,
England will be joined by 15 other teams from around the world with the tournament also coming with the added incentive of being the main qualifier for the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016.
England have been drawn in Group A and will play Japan on June 16 followed by games against two of the top-three ranked sides in the world in the guise of Iran (June 18) and Ukraine (June 20).
Ryan said: “I am over the moon. My dream of playing in the World Championships for England is now one step closer. It’s the best feeling ever. I can’t wait to play.
“I started playing at six years-old when I played for Park Farm which was my dad’s club. I stayed until I was 14 when the team stopped. I then went for a trial at the East Midlands Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence in Nottingham and later down the line was picked for the England Development team. After one match I was then picked in the senior team which is where I am now.
“If anybody with CP would love to have the chance to play for England then they should contact their local county FA who will help put them on the right track. Without CP football my dreams wouldn’t have come true.”
Ryan’s older brother Richard (27) from Orton Wistow also plays for the England CP team but wasn’t selected for the World Cup.
The brothers, who are both Peterborough United fans, were diagnosed with the disability which effects movement and muscle control at early ages.
Ryan was just three when diagnosed and Richard was 12.
The style of football they play is slightly different to the full version of the game. They play seven a-side on smaller pitches for two halves of 30 minutes but the rules remain the same and the matches are highly competitive.
Ryan added: “We both have cerebral palsy in our legs, so sometimes it is difficult to control the ball, but you learn to adapt and react to situations differently.
“The main difficulty is that you tire very quickly which is why the matches are only 60 minutes long. Adapting to that and knowing when to conserve energy is part of the game.”