Bradford City DFC is a disability club that provides 4 hours of football training for players of all ages (from 6 to 60), of all disabilities and both male and female players. We are a family club, which has around 80 players registered, and we have 7 teams who play in the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League. There are four 7-a-side teams & three 5-a-side teams including a new deaf team.
Bradford City Disability FC have led the way in delivering female disability football provision both in Bradford and in the West Riding. The women’s team started in January 2018 with a turn up and play session. Their first year in competitive football they were runners up in the FA Peoples Cup, a national competition and found themselves included in the National Football Museum and racking up over 100k views on Twitter. 12 months on they did it again as runners up in 2019, narrowly missing out.
They are striving to improve opportunities for all women and girls with disabilities to play football. They started the first girls wildcats disability sessions in the county this year which has resulted in a new team of under 12 girls.
We love being part of the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League, it is very well run, the teams play at their own abilities and all the teams are welcoming & friendly. Mike and Darren are very dedicated to the success of the League.
Today it’s the turn of Bradford City Disability’s, Matthew Groves Hemingway to share his views of playing in the SYACL.
My name is Matthew and I play for Bradford City Disability Football Club. I got into disability football from my coach, Paul Jubb, then after a while I got into volunteering. I play as a defender or midfielder.
SYACL: What do you enjoy most about playing for Bradford City DFC?
I enjoy all the tournaments and social events and trips and like playing against new teams.
SYACL: What is your favourite part of playing in the SYACL?
My favourite part is playing in South Yorkshire and just taking part. Meeting other disability teams, players and managers and playing against them.
SYACL: Do you have a favourite professional team, and who is your favourite player?
My favourite professional team Is Bradford City; my favourite player is Tyler French.
SYACL: What would you say to someone who wanted to play in the SYACL, but was maybe a little shy or nervous about joining a team?
Male or female we are a football family and a club for anyone with any disability.
SYACL: How well do you think your team will do this season?
I think we will finish in the middle of the table this season.
The SYACL Website talks to Bradford City Emerald’s goalkeeper Gemma Fletcher.
Regular spectators at last season’s South Yorkshire Ability Counts League One match days can’t have failed to have seen Bradford City Emeralds five-a-side goalkeeper Gemma Fletcher working her magic between the posts at Goals Sheffield or Goals Doncaster, write Margaret Gregory and Colin Muncie for the SYACL Website; so it made perfect sense to feature this fearless goalkeeper in our series of interviews with some of the brilliant on-field stars making a real impression in our League.
What makes Gemma even more amazing is that she was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a congenital condition which causes abnormal development of the lower spine. She is an absolute star and one of many great goalkeepers in the SYACL, so Margaret wanted to know a little more about her.
SYACL: “Gemma, when did you link up with Bradford City?”
GF: “I became a supporter of Bradford City at 10 years old; then around 8 years ago I met Jaimie, one of the coaches at Bradford City Disability FC, and when she invited me to training, things just went from there.”
“The goalkeeper I look up to is Manchester City and England Women’s Karen Bardsley” (pictured) Gemma insisted. “She is so confident in goals.”
SYACL: “What do you think is the most important aspect of goalkeeping and what makes you such a brilliant keeper?”
GF: “The most important aspect of goalkeeping for me is knowing my teammates and where they are on the pitch; and good communication with my team is also important to make sure that we are able to cover the full width of the goal.”
“I think the main aspects that make me a good ‘keeper is having good coaches, players, parents and carers that all believe in me.”
SYACL “What do you enjoy most about SYACL matchdays?”
GF: “The thing I enjoy most about a match day is that I get to see all my teammates. I love catching up with people I haven’t seen for a while; and with the other teams in the League.”
SYACL “Finally, Gemma, who is your sidekick, who was always at hand with your wheelchair? You made a great duo!”
GF: “Last season my sidekick was my dad, who came and helped me on and off the pitches but when my dad is unavailable, then one of my teammates becomes my sidekick.”
“We are all like family and help each other out when we need to.”
The SYACL Website would like to thank Gemma for giving up her time to talk to us; we look forward to seeing her back in match action soon.
The South Yorkshire Ability Counts League features three pan-disability Leagues who play their fixtures at Concord Sports Centre, and three Leagues of participants with mild to moderate learning difficulties, including autism, who play alternately at Goals Doncaster and Goals Sheffield.