Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club faces closure by this summer unless more members join

Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club during a session in 2015. Picture: Lucy Taylor

Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club during a session in 2015. Picture: Lucy Taylor - Credit: Lucy taylor

The future of Suffolk’s only wheelchair football club is under threat as player numbers dwindle to a record low.

Simon and Claire O'Brien-Ellington during a Suffolk FA event. Picture: Stephen Waller

Simon and Claire O'Brien-Ellington during a Suffolk FA event. Picture: Stephen Waller - Credit: Stephen Waller

Secretary Claire O’Brien-Ellington fears the team could fall apart by this summer unless more interest is generated.

The Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club, which is marking its 10th anniversary this year, only has eight members on the books.

Mrs O’Brien-Ellington, whose husband Simon started the squad, said: “I’m scared that it might be the end of the club this summer, if not at the end of the summer.

“I don’t want that to happen because it’s a big thing to me and my husband because it’s part of the family and I don’t want to lose that, but I’m trying my hardest to get the word out there.”

The Charioteers outside Ipswich Novotel in 2008

The Charioteers outside Ipswich Novotel in 2008


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The Charioteers meet two Saturdays a month at Inspire Suffolk in Ipswich.

In previous years the club, which is a registered charity, has had around 15 players who have ranged in age from eight to 50.

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The benefits of the sessions stretch far beyond developing new football skills, according to Mrs O’Brien-Ellington, who is a wheelchair user.

“We teach them how to manoeuvre the wheelchair, manual and powered, around various objects so they can use them as part of their every day life,” she said. “They are then aware of how to back out of a store, or out of certain situations.

Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club during a session in 2015. Picture: Lucy Taylor

Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club during a session in 2015. Picture: Lucy Taylor - Credit: Lucy taylor

“It gives them confidence to get out there. We get them to speak louder so they feel confident about themselves and to meet others that are disabled and who know what they are going through.

“We also have a bit of fun and teach them how to play together and to communicate with each other.”

Mrs O’Brien-Ellington, 40 and from Ipswich, said she carried flyers about the club every where she went and handed them out to people using wheelchairs to try and boost numbers; and she is also hoping to visit schools to recruit young members.

The reason for the downfall has been placed on lack of exposure and former players leaving.

“People get older, people lose interest, people just move away,” Mrs O’Brien-Ellington said. “So life happens and it effects us along the way, unfortunately.”

Anyone interested in joining the Ipswich Charioteers or finding out more information can call Mrs O’Brien-Ellington on 07786 062 656 or visit the website.

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