Pathfinders Neuromuscular life

Blogs, News and Features from the Neuromuscular Community

SMA & Me – Matthew’s Story

A man wearing a red jacket, sat in a Powerchair Football chair, outside a sports centre, holding a trophy.

For Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) awareness month we asked some of our members about living with their condition – here Matthew tells us about his love for Powerchair Football and sports, as well as his academic successes!

My name is Matthew Hadfield, I am an Assistant Capital Accountant and Powerchair football player from Chesterfield. For the last four years, I have studied Accounting and Economics which included a year on placement at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, for whom I have just returned to work for. I achieved a first on my course and will graduate in November. My interests are in sport, particularly Formula 1 and Football, cinema and gaming. My main passion however is Powerchair Football where I play for Nottingham Powerchair Football Club. I have played for over ten years now and mostly play as goalkeeper but am comfortable anywhere on the pitch.

The main challenges I have faced and continue to face is with regards to my mobility. Very often I find that there are places I want to go but am unable to due to the lack of facilities in the area or purely there is no suitability for wheelchairs. This means I always need to do extra planning if there is somewhere I want to go, with some situations meaning I have to altogether abandon my plans. Other than my arch-enemy stairs, I think I also faced some challenges at school, with regards to being able to complete work at the same rate as others. I was always a very slow writer due to my condition but was always able to work around this with the support of my school and later university with the provision of equipment. This combined with perhaps a little extra work at home meant I was able to succeed at school.

As a positive however, I believe these challenges have made me more resilient and always try to work around any difficult situations. 

Being offered placement whilst at university was a fantastic opportunity for me, and whilst it was very challenging, it has given me key skills that I can take into my future and apply to any situation. With the help of the Muscle Help Foundation, I was also given the opportunity to go to London in 2012 to watch the Paralympics. This was a fantastic once in a lifetime opportunity, as we were able to see some of the top athletes in the world do what they do best on the global stage – it was inspirational.

I think my most recent achievement of getting a first at university was perhaps one of my biggest achievements. I had to dedicate myself to my chosen subject for four years whilst also competing with Covid during my final year, which added a new dynamic but with support of the uni, I came through with some good marks. I think my proudest moments came from football however, where I was part of the team that won the 2013/14 Championship with Nottingham Forest, and in the two subsequent years won the East Midlands Powerchair Football League with Notts PFC. I hope that in the future I will be able to add more trophies.

Watch out for more posts in our SMA & Me series! – If you would like to share your story please get in touch with adam@pathfindersalliance.org.uk
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