Wednesday, February 28, 2024

‘We are going to the World Cup to win it’

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Like many in disability football, the Covid pandemic caused havoc to the powerchair calendar, with several competitions either cancelled or postponed.

England Powerchair finished runners-up to hosts France during an international tournament in October and had competed in Northern Ireland the year before but this year’s FIPFA World Cup will be the Para Lions’ first major tournament since winning the 2019 EPFA Nations Cup, which is effectively the sport’s European Championships.

And Harrison said: “It is great to be able to train together a lot more regularly because we are having more camps and it means we are being more inventive with our play.

“This Home Nations tournament was great preparation for the World Cup and I just can’t wait for the World Cup now.

“Winning the Home Nations was great for our confidence. We were the favourites going into it but we still had to do our jobs and the main thing was we wanted to try out new things as a team and learn from the tournament.”

England are ranked third in the world behind current champions and number one side France, and the USA, who won the first two FIPFA World Cups in 2007 and 2011.

The Para Lions finished third in the last FIPFA World Cup in 2017 but did beat champions France in the 2019 EURO final.

And Harrison said: “We are going to the World Cup to win it. France are the favourites but we showed at in the EURO final in 2019 that we can beat them.”

Harrison started playing disability sport at the age of six when he joined a powerchair hockey team at Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool.

The transferrable skills were then put to good use when he was introduced to powerchair football around the age of 11 and started playing for Everton.

By the age of 14, Harrison had been invited to train with England, which was the first camp under FA guidance, and his maiden tournament came two years later at the 2014 EPFA Nations Cup in Limerick.

The West Brom star said: “Having the opportunity to represent England means a lot to me. Being chosen as one of the top players in the country makes me very proud, and also gives you the chance to compete against the best players in the world.”

The 2023 FIPFA World Cup will see all nine teams play each other in a group stage between Sunday 15 October and Thursday 19 October, before the top four take part in semi-finals and the final on Friday 20 October.

You can see England’s fixtures for the tournament below, as well as the squad which competed in the Home Nations at the weekend.

England Powerchair squad for Home Nations

Ed Common, David Lewis, Chris Gordon, Jon Bolding, Marcus Harrison, Dan McKellan, Lewis Harris, Dylan Kelsall

Team management: Colin Gordon and Adam Crowle

England Powerchair’s group matches for the 2023 FIPFA World Cup 

Match 1 versus Argentina – Sunday 15 October 5.30am (UK) 

Match 2 versus Republic of Ireland – Monday 16 October 2.30am (UK) 

Match 3 versus Denmark – Monday 16 October 5.30am (UK)

Match 4 versus France – Tuesday 17 October 2.30am (UK)

Match 5 versus Australia – Tuesday 17 October 7am (UK)

Match 6 versus USA – Wednesday 18 October 4am (UK)

Match 7 versus Uruguay – Wednesday 18 October 7am (UK)

Match 8 versus Japan – Thursday 19 October 2.30am (UK)

Match 9 versus Northern Ireland – Thursday 19 October 5.30am (UK)

Knockout and placing matches – Friday 20 October 

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