In three months time, David Clarke, will be hoping to fire Great Britain to a Paralympic medal in Beijing.
In three months time, Harpenden's David Clarke, a stalwart of England's Blind football team will be hoping to fire Great Britain to a Paralympic medal in Beijing.
Yesterday he was taking 20 Year 10 children from Havelock Primary School in West London through their paces, alongside BBC Breakfast presenter Chris Hollins.
The children were taking part in a coaching session as part of The FA Tesco Skills programme at Featherstone High School, with former Arsenal youth coach Chris McGinn giving some of the boys and girls their first ever introduction to football.
After watching Dave dribble across the pitch in awe, seven children were plucked out by PE Teacher Steven Cotton to don a blindfold and try dribbling one of the blind footballs which contain ball-bearings, which rattle as they roll. One female pupil couldn't wait to take her blindfold off, but clearly exhilarated by the experience said "that was frightening, and really difficult. Watching Dave, he's as good as the professionals at dribbling; he's fantastic."
Dave has been blind from birth and has represented England at countless world and european championships. His goalscoring prowess makes him highly respected in the sport, but three years ago in Spain, he confessed to me that he was worried about the lack of young players coming through, due to the lack of profile the sport had.
The FA now have over 50 pan-disability football clubs in England which feed into the seven FA funded national squads and two of the younger players - who have come through the ranks - recently netted their first international goals, much to Dave's delight.
"We played Greece [2-1], Spain [2-1] and Turkey [3-1] in Thessaloniki last week, and Jonathan Gribbin scored two of the goals and Keryn Seal bagged a goal too. Keryn and Jon have both lost their sight gradually so both of them have really had to adapt to a totally different type of game.
"I've always enjoyed scoring the goals [including four in Greece] but it's vitally important that new players are challenging people like me for their places, and also that we can share the goals amongst us, particularly if we get any injuries inBeijing."
England are currently ranked second in Europe and fifth in the world, and The Three Lions are likely to provide all the players for Great Britain, led by Coaches Tony Larkin and John Ball.
"Tony has been one of the big constants in our development" said Dave, "and his partnership with John has been really important. Another person who deserves a lot of credit is Jeff Davis [The FA's National Disability Football Manager]. Since The FA has funded the team back in 2000 the set-up has got more and more professional.
"Jeff also came to a tournament with us in Argentina a couple of years ago and he could tell we were frustrated that our progress had hit a wall. He asked us what we needed, and then went away to see what he could do.
"For the last year I've now been training five times a week, three times with a personal trainer who is paid for by The FA, and i'm not only fitter than ever, but i've also lost a couple of stone in weight!"
Great Britain's opponents in Beijing will be Korea, China, Brazil, Argentina and Spain. So does the team have realistic medal expectations?
"Being candid, Brazil and Argentina are way ahead in terms of their infrastructure and have a big pool of blind players to select from" said Dave. "China have been training full-time for the past three years for this whilst I’ve been doing my job [working in corporate and private banking for Clydesdale Bank PLC in London], but we know we can beat anyone on our day, so I think absolutely we can get a medal."
Next week the team is traveling to Switzerland and Basle at the invitation of UEFA where they will play an exhibition match against Spain ahead of the Euro 2008 quarter final. Then there will be another training weekend together at Hereford on 21 June, in the shadow of the new £21million football academy being built at the Royal National College for the Blind.
The final word yesterday went to Havelock Primary School's PE Teacher and TheFA.com's part-time photographer for the afternoon, Steven Cotton. "The afternoon was brilliant and to meet someone like Dave was truly inspirational. The kids have really benefited from it and it was great to see them try a totally new experience and realise they had a range of skills and abilities they didn't realise they had.
"To train alongside an international footballer is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I know we'll definitely be watching Dave and the side's progress in China in September."