Steve Rogers was an 18-year-old student at the University of Sheffield in 2005 when an injury changed his life forever.
He had been out for the evening with friends and was crossing the road on his way home when he was knocked down by a stolen car travelling at 60mph.
The car was being pursued by a police car at the time. Steve suffered terrible injuries the most serious and life changing of which was a traumatic head injury. After a seven-hour brain operation, Steve spent three weeks in neuro-intensive care in Sheffield before being transferred to a hospital in Birmingham to be closer to home.
After eight weeks in hospital, he was then transferred to a neuro rehabilitation centre where he spent six months as an in-patient and then a further nine months as an outpatient.
It was initially feared that Steve wouldn’t live – but against the odds, he made and continues to make a remarkable recovery.
As a result of his injuries, Steve has limited feeling in and use of the right side of his body. He can walk, but he can’t run and he only has very limited use of his right hand.
He has lost the peripheral vision on his right side. Steve has had to learn to speak, read and write again and he suffers from epilepsy.
Despite his difficulties, he has achieved some amazing things.
Before university, Steve was very sporty and loved playing football.
After his injury it was very difficult for Steve to find sports that he could participate in with his particular disabilities.
Steve used to really enjoy team sports, so he tried some disability sports which he thought might be suitable including sitting volleyball. However, his limited use of his right hand made this particularly challenging. Wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby were out for the same reason.
It was in the summer of 2014 that he came across walking football. A close friend of the family played walking football in Blackpool and had suggested that it might work for Steve.
Steve and his dad started looking in the Birmingham area to try and find a club where Steve could have a go, but at the time there wasn’t anything around.
Steve’s dad made some enquires with the FA and they suggested having a chat with Paul Murtagh at Beechcroft Multisports Club, as Paul was in the process of starting a walking football club there.
Steve played in one of the initial trial sessions at Beechcroft in October 2014 and really loved it. He hasn’t looked back since.
The fact that he can play football again is incredible and because he doesn’t have to run and the game is essentially non-contact, it’s ideal for Steve. The benefits of walking football to Steve are immense.
On the physical side, almost everyone has noticed how Steve’s balance and mobility have improved. On the mental side, football obviously keeps Steve’s brain alert but it’s from the health and wellbeing point of view that it’s really made a huge difference.
Playing in a team with other players around is what really makes it for Steve. The club is so friendly and everyone knows Steve’s issues and will always give him a bit of extra time and space when he’s playing, but otherwise that’s it – he gets the same stick as everyone else, especially if he makes a misplaced pass or misses an open goal!
As Steve says: “It’s great to be playing football again and I really love being part of a team and all the banter that goes with it.
“For anyone else in my situation who loves football but feels they can’t play because of their disabilities, based on my experience I’d say think again and give it a go!”