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Watford put Jack on the road to play for England

26 Feb 2018

How Watford and the PL/BT Disability Fund are giving one teenager the chance to represent club and country

"He doesn't let anything hold him back. He's overcome everything from birth."

Like most 13-year-olds, Jack James loves football and dreams of representing his club and country.

But the Watford fan found it hard to play the game because of health issues caused by a premature birth.

"Jack was in hospital for the first year of his life," explains his mum, Julie. "He's visually impaired, hearing impaired, suffered with chronic lung disease and a stomach disorder.

"It makes sport and life difficult."

Jack played with his brother in a mainstream football team but found it hard to compete.

"It made me feel annoyed with myself, because I wanted to do something, but then I can't," Jack says.

But it did not put him off.

He joined an inclusive team at Everett Rovers and impressed so much that he was asked to play for the pan-disability team run by Watford FC's Community Sports and Education (CSE) Trust.

"He couldn't believe when he was asked to represent Watford Trust," Julie says.

"He was so proud, he was like a different boy. It was his dream come true."

With his confidence boosted, Jack has thrived and has been invited to Watford's talent hub.

This puts him on the road towards another of his goals, playing for England.

"Nothing stops him," Julie says. "He enjoys life and has got a very positive attitude.

"He doesn't let anything hold him back. He's overcome everything from birth."

Watford's pan-disability team has been made possible by the Premier League/BT Disability Fund.

Jack is one of 19,000 participants who have been helped by the fund since it began in 2016.

"The funding has been invaluable," says Ben Simms, Watford CSE's disability football development coach .

"It allows us to deliver more sports because we can get the right equipment and coaches in to help put on sessions for any person with any form of disability."

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