Stories - In the words of our players.
The following story was submitted by one of our CP Soccer players, who prefers to remain anonymous. He shared this story on the third evening of CP Soccer Camp in June of 2018, our first season. We had gathered the team together in the evening, and started off with a discussion about some pretty intense topics. What does it mean to be disabled? What does it mean to be part of a team? What does it mean to trust other people? To be accepting? To feel accepted? It had already been an emotionally intense session, and as it came to a close this one boy offered up his story. I asked him to write it up a few months later, and I have edited it some because, what felt comfortable for him to say in that moment, in a safe space with caring peers, became harder after the fact to put down as words on paper. He demonstrated incredible bravery in sharing this story, and in that moment truly solidified us as a team – and himself as our emotional and spiritual leader.
Eli Halliwell, Co-Founder of CP Soccer
My Experience as a CP soccer player
Ever Since I was 11 years old, I have loved the wonderful Sport known as Soccer/Football. I love how the Sport is so Fast-Paced and how it is a very Physical game and how competitive it can be. I also like how it is the most popular sport in the world, so there will always be plenty of people to play with! Almost every Saturday morning, I try to wake up early to watch the first games of the English Premier League, and watch big teams play like Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. I really like watching how good these teams play and the Top level the players have to be in in order for them to be in the Starting Line - up.
I played soccer regularly in middle school, on a team and with friends, and I would practice a lot to improve my Skills. When I got to high school, I decided to try out for the varsity Team. Obviously I knew that I had a slight Disadvantage from the Other Players because of my CP, I knew that I was probably not going to be as quick, balanced or as strong as the other Players, But at the Same time I did not want to use My disability as an excuse to not give it my best in trying out on the team. I tried my hardest, but the Coach wouldn’t take me. He said I just didn’t have the skills to play with the other players. I was disappointed, but I kept practicing on my own so I could get better. The next year I tried out for the Team again. I could tell I had improved, but the Coach still would not let me on the team. He pulled me aside at the end and said I just was not able enough to play with the other kids. Again I was disappointed and frustrated, but I love Soccer, so I kept practicing and working on my skills.
Entering my Junior year, I wanted to try out again for the Varsity team. When it came time to select the final roster for the team, I was selected but that year there were a lot of players on the team so not everyone was going to be given a lot of time and they were also a very talented group of players. During the first game of the season, I was on the bench and I came on during the second half, playing as a forward. In one point of the game, the ball was in the air, and I jumped for the ball and so did the defender, who was a lot taller and stronger then me. I did not get the ball and I landed on the right side almost Injuring my right arm which is affected by my CP. After that game, I talked to my Coach and he said that for my safety he would tell the coaches to tell his players to not play so physically with me because of the risk of injury. I completely agreed and understood my Coach about this decision because it was important for my safety. I knew that I had to find a way to play Smarter and better so I wouldn’t have to deal with playing physical all the time. So I practiced and started to figure out ways to get around the defenders without having to worry about my Disadvantages on the field. I started to play better and play smarter and soon enough I was in the Starting Lineup and I even got a goal and an Assist that season!
After the last game of the season, the Coach wanted to talk to me. He told me that it was so incredible and inspiring to see me try to improve my game as much as I can and give 100% every time I played even if I wasn’t athletic as some of the other Players. He said I was one of the best and hard- working players that he’s ever worked with. Then he apologized for not believing in me sooner. He told me I had changed the way he sees people with disability. He asked me for a hug and he started to cry. We both cried.
Hearing those words got me very Motivated and made me very happy because I always try my Best when I play and it really doesn’t matter to me if I have CP. I don’t want to look at my Disability as a setback and I still want to show people that I can still play just as good as some other Players and that I can give my give my best on the field. Fast Forward to today and it’s been an amazing journey in CP soccer. I cannot thank Mr. Halliwell and Mr. Hammond enough for taking me to CP soccer camp and helping me Improve the way I play Soccer every Week. It was an awesome and unforgettable experience at Camp to play soccer and help other kids with CP improve their game, and to help them learn to not look at or use their Disability as an excuse or a setback, but rather show them that they can achieve or do anything they want to just like anyone else as long as they put their mind and effort into it.
The following essay was written by Levi Halliwell for a segment of Highlights Magazine.
What I Wish You Knew About Me
I want people to know that it is hard for me to have CP (cerebral palsy). Before I was born, I had a stroke that made my right hand not work as well as my left. My right leg is affected too.
My difference affects me in a lot of ways, like I am not as independent as I would like to be. Even making myself a snack can be hard. Sometimes I don’t feel that I’m good at any thing, like soccer or video games. This makes me feel angry and sad, and I worry that that will affect my friendships.
I have done a lot of treatments to help with things that are hard for me. I’ve done physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and hippotherapy (riding horses). Last summer I went to magic camp, which was fun because it was therapy and magic mixed together. We learned the magic, then performed it for our parents. It worked! We all felt like we were just doing mag ic, not therapy. I made friends there with kids who had paralysis. Hanging out with them felt amazing because we had gone through the same thing.
One of my favorite activities is CP soccer. When we found out that the U.S. doesn’t have a CP league, we started one! This made me realize that I may not be the best at non-CP soccer, but I am pretty good by CP standards. One teammate just made it to the paralympic national team! I want to do that when I get older.
If I were to give advice to the younger kids on the team, I would say that growing up with CP is hard. Sometimes you’ll be sad and sometimes you’ll be frustrated. When that happens, find something you really like and work hard to become good at it. That’s what I try to do.