Norwich student signs for Tottenham Hotspur’s cerebral palsy football team

Emil Roger (centre) coaching at the Pan-Disability Soccer Skill Centre at Carrow Road with the Community Sports Foundation. Picture: Daniel Wynne Emil Roger (centre) coaching at the Pan-Disability Soccer Skill Centre at Carrow Road with the Community Sports Foundation. Picture: Daniel Wynne

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
6:30 AM

Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy may have missed out on the chance to play football in Brazil – but a City College Norwich student still has hopes of heading to Rio.

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Emil Roger is hoping to represent Team GB at football in the 2016 Paralympics, which are being held in Rio, just as this summer’s World Cup will be.

The 16-year-old has taken a big step towards making his dream a reality after signing for Tottenham Hotspur’s cerebral palsy football team. The Level Two Sport and Exercise Diploma student from Norwich, who can play as a striker or in central midfield, has been given a one-year contract with Spurs’ senior cerebral palsy team after impressing during a five-week trial.

He impressed the Tottenham coaches by scoring two goals for the team on his debut in a friendly match against QPR.

Emil said: “It was quite an achievement for me to join Tottenham, especially as I am the youngest player to have signed for the senior team. 

“Tottenham has a leading cerebral palsy team, with lots of players looking to play for England and Great Britain in the Paralympics. 

“I think I have shown my potential and, if I keep working hard, I feel I can make it to play at international level.”   

Emil is also a talented wheelchair basketball player – having played for the Norwich Lowriders for the last eight years – but his focus is now firmly on progressing as a footballer, which will mean regular travel to and from London. The youngster also has to stay focused on his college work as he plans to progress to higher education to train to become a physiotherapist in either sport or paediatrics, due to his own experiences of receiving regular physiotherapy from the team at the Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. 

“Since I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby I have always dealt with physios,” Emil continued. “The staff at the hospital have often said that I would make a good physiotherapist. 

“I enjoy coaching and working with children as they are always energetic, it’s a good vibe to be around, so this is definitely an area I would be interested in working in.”

Emil is a qualified (Level One) football coach and regularly coaches at Carrow Park, where his own football talents became apparent through his participation in Norwich City Community Sports Foundation teams. He is also gaining experience as a coach by assisting on the Community Sports Foundation Pan-Disability Soccer Skill Centres.

Corrienne Peasgood, City College Norwich principal, said: “Emil is a highly conscientious and focused student and an extremely amiable and well-rounded young man.

“We are delighted that his dedication has seen him achieve success on the football field and off it. Emil is a great role model and we wish him every success in playing for Tottenham and in working towards his dream of making it to the next Paralympics.”

Do you know someone local who is hoping to compete at an international tournament? Contact David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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