Aspire win EPFA Champions Cup in Paris

Reaction from captain Jon Bolding as an English club lifts the prestigious trophy for the first time

Monday 24 Jun 2024
Aspire won the 2024 EPFA Champions Cup

Aspire PFC fought off competition from around Europe to brilliantly become the first English club to win the EPFA Champions Cup.

Captained by England skipper Jon Bolding, Aspire beat French team Upsilon Châtenay-Malabry 1-0 in Saturday's final after a six-day competition in Paris.

Ten teams took part in the tournament in total, competing in a round-robin group-stage format between Monday and Friday.

Aspire won seven of their group-stage matches, their only two defeats coming to fellow English club West Bromwich Albion and a 7-1 reversal to eventual losing finalists Upsilon.

The extent of that defeat emphasised what a fine win it was for Aspire in the final, also considering Upsilon had won all nine of their group matches and scored 36 goals.

Bolding said: "It was huge for us to win the cup, we had previously entered on five occasions and our best result was getting to the semi-final. The competition has got harder year on year and to come away as champions is incredible.

"The key was to stick together as a team and work just as hard off the pitch as we do on it. There is so much prep and that was vital. We knew that 7-1 defeat didn't mean anything as we had already qualified. It was a free hit to see what they were like and then we could watch it back. It showed we needed to be defensively strong so we adjusted our setup. 

"It means everything. No English team has ever won this tournament and to be able to do it is magnificent. We are hoping it will propel the sport more in this country and across the world. It will hopefully reach disabled people who have never played the sport before.

"It shows as a country that we are progressing at a great pace. We are challenging big countries and clubs and the setup in England is helping things improve every year.

"We are desperate to go and win the Disability Cup on Sunday now."

West Brom were beaten by the eventual champions on penalties in the semi-final before going on to secure third place in the competition for themselves.

Brad Bates was Aspire's top goalscorer, notching seven times during the tournament, while Bolding himself bagged five goals.

Aspire and West Brom will lock horns again in this weekend's Powerchair Cup Final at St George's Park, one of six showdowns on FA Disability Cup weekend.  

Read more about that event here.

By Adam Drury