The FA

For James

How James Blackwell realised his England dream

Friday 17 Feb 2017

Every young boy wants to play for his country.

James Blackwell was a successful youth footballer who played for the West of England. He also had a secret, which he hid from everyone – including his fiancee.

Football was my disguise
- James Blackwell

Then the opportunity to represent his country came along. But to do that, he had to accept who he really is.

"To achieve my dream of playing for England," says James, "I had to be honest about myself.

"Before that, football was my disguise. Even my fiancée never knew that I was born with cerebral palsy.

"People now look at me very differently."

Find out how discovering disability football changed James's life, and helped him realise his dreams:


'Without The FA, I wouldn't have accepted who I really am'

The FA gave James the courage to tell the truth. Until then, he had hidden his condition from everyone except his closest family.

The chance to be involved in elite-level cerebral palsy football came about through The FA. He saw that as the opportunity to be honest about himself, and describes it as the turning point in his life.

When he came up against a player with his condition in a county-league game, he looked into opportunities for disabled footballers.

"I got in contact with The FA. They told me the different routes and channels to an elite level of football.

"It was an opportunity to make me a better person - more genuine and more honest.

"The FA actually gave me the opportunity to tell my wife and friends; the chance to play for England; and to be able to shout: I've got a disability and I don't care."

The FA ;

What next for James?

The England CP squad was at St. George's Park in February for a training camp as they get set for June's friendly games ahead of the upcoming IFCPF World Championships in San Luis, Argentina. They finished fifth in the 2015 championships, which took place on these shores at the national football centre.

The FA operates seven England Disability teams, with 2017 seeing sides compete at the FIPFA World Cup (powerchair), the IBSA (blind) European championship and the partially-sighted futsal world championships in the coming months.

Don't let disability stop you playing football. Click here to find out how The FA can help you get involved, or enter your details below to locate your nearest facility.