AFC Bournemouth Ability Counts FC has been granted a place in the inaugural FA Disability cup.
Made up of men of pan-disability, the Cherries side are one of only 16 teams to have been awarded a place in the prestigious competition, after nomination from the Hampshire FA.
In a tournament which includes disabled teams from the likes of Champions League winners Chelsea and Championship side Derby County, Ability Counts FC manager Kate Shephard said her side’s inclusion was an overwhelming achievement.
‘When I told the boys at training that they would be taking part in the competition there was a stunned silence,’ she explained. ‘They just looked at me and couldn’t believe what they were hearing.
‘It will be an absolute honour for us to take part in a disabled version of one of the world’s oldest tournaments, and we can’t wait to get started.
‘The lads have been preparing for over a month now and they haven’t been able to stop talking about it.’
The Cherries have been drawn away to Exeter City Ability Counts in the first round, a tie that will take place on 24th February.
The knock-out style competition is separated into regions before an overall final that is set to be held at St George`s Park, the new FA national training facility in Burton.
And Shephard believes that whilst they want to go all the way, the experience Ability Counts FC will take from the event will be invaluable in itself.
“We have promised all our boys that regardless of where we finish in the competition we will take them to watch the final.
‘Hopefully we won’t have to and we will make it ourselves, but there are three rounds to negotiate before the final in May and we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves.
‘First up is Exeter City which will be a massive challenge, but the lads couldn’t be more up for it and we’ll be looking for a win.’
Ability Counts FC will have a training session on the Cherries’ new Kings Park training pitches in preparation for the first round, and will also be accompanied by Cherries first team physio Steve Hard on the day.
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