The Arsenal Foundation has provided funds for two Arsenal Amputee footballers to represent England in the 2018 Amputee World Cup in Mexico.
Tony Mills and Helder Silva have been selected to represent England at the international tournament next - but there was an initial stumbling block for the duo, with each player having to fund their own way to the tournament.
That was until The Arsenal Foundation caught wind of their story, and offered to fund their World Cup dreams.
“Without the support of The Arsenal Foundation it wouldn’t be possible for me to go to Mexico,” Silva told Arsenal.com.
“They said that you need to raise £1,500 to be able to go, but since we don’t have any support from the FA, each player had to raise for themselves. We would go to the front of the tube station or Tesco with a bucket and ask for donations, but then The Arsenal Foundation came through and said that they wanted to support us and fund for Tony and I to go to Mexico.
“It’s unbelievable to have that support from them and to go to the World Cup and represent the country. Ever since you’re a kid you want to play at the highest level, represent your country and hear the national anthem, so to be able to do that is breathtaking. It gives me goosebumps.”
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“If you’ve got a love for the game, no matter what your ability is, it’s here and the support that’s here is amazing,” added Arsenal Amputees captain, Mills.
“After my accident I had a hard year with depression and a number of things, but once I found that sport and found that motivation again I was able to turn my life around. Then I went on to play amputee football for England until 2007, before deciding to go into athletics, where I was lucky enough to represent Team GB for a number of years.
“But in 2017 I came back to the sport with Arsenal and I thought I’d try my hand at it again at the ripe old age of 37. They have brilliant facilities here and they offer me the chance to come and train with some great coaches, which is even better for me now looking ahead to the World Cup in Mexico.
“Because it’s a charitable organisation we don’t receive funding, so Arsenal have been more than kind and decided to support that. Now I can get on that plane and show the world what I can do, so it’s amazing.”
Both Tony and Helder have been training with the Arsenal Amputees at The Arsenal Community Hub for two years. For more information on the Arsenal Amputee Football programme, contact Luke Howard, Arsenal in the Communities Disability Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
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