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Club News


16 May 2014

From Norfolk to Rio - the sky's the limit for Danny Dyer's team coach.

INPIRATIONAL 17-year-old Emil Roger, from Norwich, will coach Danny Dyer's side at Jamie's Game 2 on 25 May, just the latest achievement for a  young man destined for greatness on an international stage.

Emil has cerebral palsy, a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination causing issues with mobility and balance. His journey to overcome these challenges, with the support of Norwich City's Community Sports Foundation (CSF), is particularly inspiring.

Spotted at the age of 11 by CSF coaches as a promising talent, Emil was invited to join the Disability Player Development Centre.

"I knew right away that Emil had potential," says then disability officer Laurence York. "He was small and did have issues with mobility, but he was so comfortable on the ball."

The CSF Disability Player Development Centre gives participants the opportunity to play football against players with similar disabilities. Playing football increases stamina but it also tones core muscles and strengthens legs, all of which are vital for people with cerebral palsy.

Emil demonstrated a fantastic attitude right from the onset. He became a popular figure at the sessions, impressing coaches and peers alike with his work ethic and his willingness to learn.

At the age of 16, having progressed into the Adult Disability Player Development Centre, Emil approached CSF's coaches about the possibility of developing his coaching. With funds raised from the Sporting Light Appeal, CSF helped him to complete his FA Level 1 Football coaching badge.

Upon successfully completing the course, he began volunteering at CSF's Pan Disability Soccer sessions, helping coach both the Adult and Child groups.


"I love helping others to learn," says Emil. "I get such enjoyment from it, particularly working with the younger groups. It's great to see them progress both on and off the pitch."

At the start of 2014, CSF disability officer Ben Price suggested he trialled for the London Regional Cerebral Palsy Football Centre of Excellence. After impressing during the trial, Emil signed a one year contract with the team, becoming the youngest player at the time to do so.

Though often deployed up front, Emil's favoured position is centre-midfield - like his idols David Beckham and Andres Iniesta. Playing in fixtures against the likes of Chelsea, Southampton and Reading, he won the league and cup with the team in his first season.

Dad and Emil now make the 200 mile round-trip down to London every Saturday for training, but Emil still finds the time in his week to volunteer at the CSF Pan-Disability sessions.

Proud dad Phil has been particularly moved by the transformation he's seen in his son: "I've seen leadership qualities emerge from Emil. He was shy and avoided the limelight, but since his involvement with CSF and his volunteering I've seen such maturity. He's such a confident young man now."

It's an exciting time for Emil. An upcoming tournament at St George's Park for talented CP players will give him the chance to play at England's state-of-the-art training facility. And with the Cerebral Palsy World Cup due to be hosted there in 2015 the dream of representing England's national CP team is closer to becoming a reality.

But Emil's set his sights one step further. Inspired by the recent London Paralympic games, he hopes to one day represent Team GB - and he has Rio firmly locked in his sights.

Emil's journey with CSF to overcome the challenges of cerebral palsy and to excel is an inspiration to all. He is just one of a number of participants in our programmes that continually reach out and support thousands of disabled people in Norfolk to achieve their goals.

25 May, kick-off 3pm

The Sporting Light Appeal uses sport to improve the quality of life for those who need it most in Norfolk.

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