The England Cerebral Palsy team have gathered at St. George’s Park for the first of four training camps ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
It was announced in March 2014 that England will host the 16-team tournament, with all 48 fixtures to take place at St. George’s Park.
And captain Jack Rutter, who was a trainee at Birmingham City before an unprovoked attack left him with brain damage and deaf in one ear, said the World Cup will act as a perfect platform to showcase disability sport.
Cerebral Palsy World Cup
- 16 teams competing
- Four groups of four, with the top two progressing
- Third and fourth placed teams go into secondary play-off fixture to determine ranks 9-16
- Top eight qualify for Rio 2016 Paralympics
"Coming into 2015 it’s a World Cup year and a massive opportunity for all the boys to do well," he said.
"The media coverage is vital. If there’d have been the media coverage we’re having now back when I suffered my injury I would have known about this football earlier.
"The more we get it out there then the more people’s lives it could change.
"On a personal note, I know it’s changed my life – and I know it’s changed all my team-mate’s lives too."
So as Rutter and his team-mates gathered on a blisteringly cold mid-winter’s morning at the National Football Centre, Jeff Davis’ squad of 19 hopefuls took to training pitch five to get their preparation under way.
After the training camps – three at St. George’s Park and one in Scotland - Davis will whittle his squad down to 14 names for the seven-a-side tournament.
And Rutter says he cannot wait for the World Cup, which also acts as a qualification mechanism for the 2016 Paralympic Games, to get underway.
"We believe we can turn a few heads and try and break into the top four or five and qualify for Rio 2016," he added.
"I was delighted when I found out we would be hosting the World Cup.
"We play a lot of tournaments abroad and nothing compares to St. George’s Park.
“The facilities are incredible so it’s going to be a brilliant place to hold a World Cup and really showcase CP football”
Jack Rutter England CP captain
"I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of football around the world and this is the best place I’ve ever seen.
"The pitches and all the facilities are incredible so it’s going to be a brilliant place to hold a World Cup and really showcase CP football."
England kick-off the competition on Saturday 18 June, and the Final will take place on Sunday 28 June.
They will find out who will be joining them in the group of four on 11 March, when the draw takes place at St. George’s Park.
England CP squad training at St. George's Park
1 Giles Moore, 2 Ryan Kay, 3 Jordan Raynes, 4 Harry Baker, 5 James Blackwell, 6 Matt Crossen, 7 Jake Brown, 8 Michael Barker, 9 Dale Smith, 10 George Fletcher, 11 Martin Sinclair, 12 Karl Townsend, 13 Jack Rutter (c), 14 Ibs Diablo, 15 Ollie Nugent, 16 Ali Patrick-Heselton, 17 Sean Highdale, 18 Will Boucher, 19 Bailey Fleming.