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22 September 2023

Charlie – “I want to be the best amputee footballer in the world”

Charlie – “I want to be the best amputee footballer in the world”

Charlie Hewson has loved football for as long as he can remember.

Charlie is part of the BHAFC Foundation’s disability football programme, and every Monday he trains with Albion’s amputee football team at the club’s training ground in Lancing.

At just 13 years old he’s by far the youngest player on the pitch – the rest of the squad are all grown men – but Charlie doesn’t look out of place. It’s clear to see he’s a talented young player with a big future in the game, and everyone on the pitch knows it.

He’s sharp, has a great first touch, and covers ground with a speed you wouldn’t believe unless you saw it.

Most importantly though, he plays with a big smile on his face.

Charlie has been playing since he was old enough to kick a ball. His parents encouraged him to play from an early age; they were convinced that football would be a big positive influence for him.

Charlie’s mum, Kate, said that she wanted Charlie to get into football as a way to socialise and to have a hobby for life.

“He’s always played football,” she told us, “His dad Chris is a massive football fan, so he and Charlie were out in the garden playing from day one.”

People playing amputee football come from many different walks of life; some join the sport later in life, and some grow up with it. Charlie was one of the latter.

“He had cancer when he was a baby, and he had his amputation when he was about 13 months old,” Kate said, “So he learned how to walk on his prosthetic legs, and he’s never really known any different. He’s just grown up with it.

“Amputee football has been a great way to normalise it for him as well. For him to meet people who can relate to his experiences, and to see that the older lads have all turned out okay.

“He loves it, he absolutely loves it. Morning, noon, and night he’s out there playing.”

Charlie began by playing mainstream football, before a chance recommendation led him to the BHAFC Foundation.

“I was pointed towards amputee football at the Foundation by Clare, his prosthetist at the Brighton rehabilitation centre. She’s a huge Brighton fan obviously!

“We started really early on with the Foundation, but they didn’t have a junior amputee team. So we waited until he was old enough to stay up late enough to play with the senior side, and then a couple of years ago he started training with them every week.”

It’s clear from speaking to Charlie that he’s passionate about the beautiful game, and that he definitely knows his stuff.

“I love playing football,” Charlie told us, “It’s really good playing at the Foundation sessions, and the coaches are all really nice to me.

“I love training with the guys there, it’s brilliant for developing my skills and from the very first day the guys have made me feel so welcome and included.

“It’s good playing against older players, it helps me develop.

“Amputee football has given me the opportunity to play football to a high level, meet some fantastic people who understand me, and make amazing friends.”

Charlie’s teammates at the Foundation are very fond of him, but that doesn’t stop them from letting him in on the banter.

“He loves it, and they’re all so funny with him. They look after him, they’re all brilliant lads,” Kate said.

“I think he actually prefers playing with the older lot! He’s been playing with adults for so long now that he’s got used to it, and it definitely helps his game.”

Charlie has been part of the England amputee football programme for a while now, and he’s very proud to be a part of it.

“It was really good playing for England for the first time, it was a proud moment,” he told us.

It was a proud moment to be sure – on his debut against the Republic of Ireland, Charlie scored no less than six goals. A debut to remember indeed.

Representing his country takes a lot of dedication – the England camps are held about five hours away in Crewe – but Charlie and his parents never fail to make the long trip.

“It’s a long way, but it’s worth it. There’s a good community of parents to meet, and of course Charlie meets people from all over the world too.

“He’s just lucky that he’s got the Foundation so close to where he lives. A lot of the juniors at the England camp don’t have a club to play at in between camps, so Charlie is very lucky to have a great club so nearby.”

After scoring for England at such a young age, all Charlie wants to do now is keep going.

“It felt great scoring goals for England and to share it with my friends in the team was fantastic too,” he said.

“In the future I want to play for England in the Amputee Football World Cup, and become the best amputee footballer in the world.”

Charlie Hewson, best footballer in the world? You wouldn’t bet against it.

Find out more about our disability football programme here.


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