Bryan Kilpatrick-Elliott, nine, selected for England cerebral palsy junior squad
Most kids can only ever dream of playing for England.
But for nine-year-old Bryan Kilpatrick-Elliott the dream has turned into a reality after he was selected for England’s cerebral palsy (CP) under-13s squad.
The Fishlake Falcons and Club Doncaster Titans midfielder even got a helping hand from inspirational England CP captain Jack Rutter along the way.
And now the youngster from Kirk Sandall wants to encourage other children with cerebral palsy to follow his lead.
His proud mother Emily takes up the story...
“Bryan, like most children that love to play football, wanted to be the best he can be and follow in the footsteps of his favourite footballers,” she told the Free Press.
“Although he has cerebral palsy he was determined to find a way to have the same opportunities as able-bodied children - and that is when he discovered the England CP team. He found some clips on YouTube of the England CP team and their captain Jack Rutter.
“Bryan immediately became hooked and got in touch with Jack after he asked his dad to set him up a Twitter account, asking for some advice of what he should do next. Unbelievably Jack got in touch. We were really shocked because at that time Jack was with Team GB at the Paralympics in Rio.
“Jack kindly gave us the details of Paul Bird who is the head coach for the North East and Yorkshire Regional Talent Centre, and we discovered a trial for new players was taking place for the under 13s squad.
“Bryan impressed them at the first trial and was invited back for several trials throughout the year, and at the latest one he was named in the squad.”
Emily continued: “Bryan was over the moon that finally all of his hard work and dedication was beginning to pay off. His confidence and ability have just soared.
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“His other teams and coaches are extremely proud.
“When Bryan passed his trial Jack [Rutter] also kindly sent him a signed England shirt to congratulate him and still keeps in touch on Twitter.
“Playing CP football for Bryan has helped him in many ways.
“He is an extremely determined and focused young boy who has never let his condition hold him back.
“But his confidence and physical fitness have improved no end. He even does fitness yoga especially for footballers to help him with his flexibility as he grows.
“He has also made such a great group of friends that will no doubt be with him for life.”
Darren Warner, coach at Club Doncaster Titans - where children with various disabilities get the opportunity to train and play football at a pace that suits them - also offered his congratulations to Bryan.
“On behalf of the club and all its staff we would like to wish Bryan all the best and we hope that this is a great springboard for him,” he said.
“We are absolutely delighted for him and we know he has a very bright future in front of him.”
Emily added: “Bryan would very much like to help other kids with cerebral palsy realise that you can still be involved in football at the highest level whatever your ability, in the same way Jack helped Bryan with his journey into CP football.”
n For more information about CP football email regional head coach Paul Bird on firstname.lastname@example.org.