My name is Liam Ashton and I’ve been playing powerchair football for 6 years and power hockey for 10 years at Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool. I have DMD, but that doesn’t stop me playing the sports I love.
I was introduced to power football in 2016, when my power hockey coaches, Gerry Kinsella MBE and Pete Wyman, plus Marcus Harrison, (powerchair football England player who also played power hockey with me) all suggested we should try powerchair football. So me and my power hockey teammates formed Greenbank PFC alongside Gerry, Pete and Marcus; our coaches. As a team we have achieved success in a short period of time at an incredibly fast pace, winning the North West regional league twice in our first 2 seasons! Then, getting promoted to the Championship (the second highest league in the country) through playoffs. All within our first 3 seasons! The team has an array of different ages and genders, our youngest player being 11 years old, while others are 70+ years old. Even though we have our disagreements, especially over Liverpool and Everton, we are a very close knit group but also very welcoming to new members.
Playing our first 2 seasons in the North West regional league was a great way for Greenbank PFC to ease into playing powerchair football and especially for me as I now played two sports at the same time! Playing both sports definitely made my weeks much busier! My weeks are even busier now we are playing at a higher level; competing in the National Championship Division. Looking back we had an amazing time, at the beginning when we were only playing in the regional league; it was amazing! I really did enjoy it but as the saying goes ‘We don’t appreciate what we have till it’s gone’. At that time we were winning most of our games by comfortable margins, plus I was winning in a team with my friends and best friend Alex, it really was a wonderful time.
Even though I have always enjoyed playing football, I recently lost my enthusiasm for the sport; in September 2021, I lost my best friend Alex, who’d always played hockey and football with me. Alex was the main player in our team as he played in the middle position. It was a complete surprise that no one had seen coming and was devastating for the team; especially when our first games in the Championship were on the horizon. This meant I was asked to play in the middle; a position that I had barely any experience of. At first I thought it would be really difficult and I would struggle but it wasn’t as bad as I had first imagined it would be, in fact, I enjoyed our team’s first weekend in the Championship division of the National League. Mostly because I scored a hattrick (scored 3 goals in one game) and we picked up 7 points out of a possible 15.
The next weekend we only picked up 1 point out of a possible 12. This was when I started to get fed up with playing football and didn’t want to play it anymore. Even after the 2021 Christmas break and one month of not playing at all, I still felt the same. But recently that changed; at our third football weekend, we played Brighton in the league and one of their players hit the ball so fast that it lifted into the air and flew right into my knee, so hard that it fractured my femur.
At first, I was even more fed up, but at the next weekend of matches I became coach for the team as one of our coaches was on holiday, while the other two had coronavirus and due to my injury I couldn’t play. This helped me realise that the team has some remarkably promising players which will improve the team greatly. I could also see the team playing from a different perspective; this made me realise how I could play differently to improve the team when I returned as a player. I have only been back playing at training once, very recently in a practice game; the team played a blinder winning 7-1 and I got a hattrick, again! Through my experiences of the last year it really shows that if you are at a low point, things will get better, it’ll eventually be sunny one day.
Overall, I think powerchair football is a fantastic sport, it has its issues, like every sport, but it is one of a very small exclusive branch of sports that use powerchairs, it makes the playing field equal for all powerchair users and their more able bodied friends or family. This means they can play against more able bodied people, while still keeping it fun and competitive for everyone. If you haven’t tried it, you really must and it doesn’t matter if you don’t like it, as long as you have had a go, that’s what counts.
If you want to find out more about Power Hockey or Powerchair Football at Greenbank visit: Greenbank Sports Academy.
If you’re not from Liverpool you can find your nearest club in England and Northern Ireland on England’s Powerchair Football’s National Governing Body website The Wheelchair Football Association and for Scotland visit the Scottish Powerchair Football Association
You could also check out Pathfinders’ guide: Powerchair Football – The Basics