A VISUALLY impaired Suffolk teenager is holding his first Pan Disability Sports Activities event after setting up his own company.
Harry Macdonald, who is 19-years-old and now an England Futsal International player, was diagnosed with Nystagmus from birth. This is a vision condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements.
These movements often result in reduced vision and depth perception and can affect balance and coordination. These involuntary eye movements can occur from side-to-side, up and down, or in a circular pattern.
Harry’s company Anyone Can is staging the Pan Disability Sports Activities event at Walsham-le-Willows Sports Club (IP31 3AH) on Bank Holiday Monday, May 27th.
There will be two sessions – one for 6-11-year-olds from 10am-1pm and another for 12-18-year-olds from 2pm-5pm – costing just £10 per person. All disabilities are welcome. For further information email Anyonecansport@gmail.com
Harry played football as a child but found mainstream football very hard so he only played for a couple of years. He returned to football around the age of 15 years through playing on the school field at break time with some friends, which is where his passion for the sport began.
Harry, who lives in Ixworth, said: “At this point in time I began to coach football at Walsham-le-Willows Football Club. This was football coaching for girls between the ages of eight and 13.
“As girls’ football wasn’t massively known at the time I could relate this to disability sport. This inspired me to look into disability sport.
“I went to Thurston Upper School and then West Suffolk College. Both the school and college I went to did not really support disability sport. I was not selected for the school team although I thought I was good enough.
“I was constantly held back in showing my potential as I wasn’t given the opportunity to express my passion for football and to show everyone my ability.”
Harry is now at The University of Lincoln studying Health and Exercise Science and only now can he express his passion and ability for Futsal while playing for the university’s men’s Futsal team.
“Futsal is the best sport for people with a visual impairment as it is indoors and only five- a-sides. Futsal has a heavier ball than football and so it doesn’t go in the air too much which means it can always be seen,” he said.
Harry came across the England talent pathway by playing for D4S (Disabilty4Sport) – a pan disability football club – in Colchester, and was invited to an England Talent Trial Day.
After a successful trial day he entered an England talent trial programme, training once a week for six weeks and was then selected for another trial in Cambridge before joining a two-year England Emerging Talent Programme.
This led to his being invited to train with the England Senior Visually Impaired Squad to prepare for the European Championships, and he represented England in Georgia at the championships in December.
He said: “It really was a dream come true. Our first game was against Italy and we won 4-0. I come on late in this match so this was my debut.
“Our second game was against hosts Georgia and we won 28-0. I scored a hat trick in this win, the first being the penalty and I also received the match ball. Also in this game I sprained my ankle which ruled me out for the rest of the tournament.”
England went on to lose to Russia in the semi-final, before beating Italy 4-0 in the third place play-off. Ukraine won the tournament with Russia finishing runners-up. Harry is pictured above in his England shirt with the match ball he received after the game against Georgia.
Harry continued: “My main goal for the future is to open a door for disabled people who want to start doing sports mainly football but haven’t had the opportunity to.
“I can use my experience to help them succeed and truly find a passion for it like I have.”