Who we work with: Connor
Anyone visiting Brighton & Hove Albion’s American Express Community Stadium this season cannot have failed to notice the eye-catching new design on the front of the club shop, which features players from all four of Albion in the Community’s (AITC) national disability-specific league squads alongside players from the Albion’s Premier League and FA Women’s Super League teams.
One of those players, Connor Cruise, is now busy preparing for the start of the 2018/19 England Amputee Football League season alongside his teammates from Brighton & Hove Albion Amputee FC (BHAAFC).
At 17, Cruise is the youngest member of the squad but has already become a key part of the team. An attack-minded midfielder, Crusie has been playing with AITC for two years and has been called up to the England amputee development squad.
The new domestic season doesn’t get underway until January – a delayed start resulting from the amputee World Cup. Once underway, BHAAFC will compete against the likes of Arsenal, Portsmouth, Manchester City and Everton. Before then, there are pre-season friendlies and a domestic cup competition to tackle. Not to mention the increased interest in the team resulting from Cruise’s appearance in the Albion’s kit launch.
Sky Sports News and Premier League Productions have already visited the team to film training sessions at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre – including an interview with Cruise which was broadcast worldwide.
So how has Cruise found the recent media interest? “I was amazed to be asked to be involved in the kit launch,” he explained. “My little brother and sister loved seeing the photo of me at the Amex and my grandad, who has always been a Seagulls fan, took my grandma along to watch her first match recently and went to look at the photo of me. My family are all very proud.”
And what about his involvement with AITC? How much of an impact has the charity had on him since he starting playing with the amputee team? “I always loved playing football before my amputation and I am so happy that I am able to play again – and at a higher level than I ever thought possible.
“Playing for the charity is a big part of my life. Not only does it help in terms of my physical fitness, but I also enjoy it so much.
“As a squad we are now are training hard and I am looking forward to challenging myself in the new season.”
AITC also runs a junior amputee session and the charity is looking to recruit new players to both its adult and junior sessions. For more information, email: email@example.com.