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Interview with Rayner Essex sponsored Paralympian Emyle Rudder

Disability footballer Emyle Rudder represented Paralympics GB at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and is one of Rayner Essex’s sponsored SportsAid athletes.  Read his interview with Grace Hughes from SportsAid below, where he discusses football, Rio 2016 and the his plans for the future.

How did you get into your sport?

When I was at school, I was made aware that there was an England set-up for people with cerebral palsy, and that a coach was going to visit to watch players from my school compete in a school tournament. I decided to go along and have a go and just played without feeling any pressure. I played well and therefore was invited to a development training session where I again played very well. Two weeks later, I was asked to attend a senior training camp, and proving myself worthy of a spot in the team, I have been training with them ever since. I then began my first major competitive tournaments with the team, the first being the Senior European Championships in Scotland where I performed well, followed by the World Cup in Holland in 2011.

What does a typical week look like for you?

My week mainly involves working and training. Three months prior to the Paralympic Games I trained every day, undergoing double sessions most days. Therefore there was very little opportunity to work during these final months!

How did you feel when you found out you were receiving a SportsAid Award from Rayner Essex and how has this helped you this year?

When I found out that Rayner Essex was going to support me I was really grateful. The money has helped me to buy new football boots, to put petrol in the car for travelling to and from training and has also helped me to purchase other things that support my performance such as supplements. I received SportsAid when I had just fully returned back to training from injury and the award came at just the right time to help me on my road to Rio.

How did you find out you were going to the Paralympic Games?

I received a phone call from the Head of Disability Football at the FA. The news didn’t really hit me until I was out in Rio and I realised I was really here! However my journey to Paralympic selection was far from straight forward.

During the 2015 World Cup at St Georges Park I ruptured my ACL during our second game. My first thought was ‘oh my days’, but it happened and there was nothing I could do about it. To me my health felt more important than my football and I just wanted to do all I could to get fit again. I prayed for the best, had an operation and worked hard on my rehab. I was unable to play football for nine months, however at four months I was able to start running. At five and six months I started going crazy because I could do most things but was still not allowed to play any football. My teammates kept me focused and I had lots of support from my family and physio team. After nine months I was finally able to start playing football again and I attended the final few camps before Rio selections. I then got the fantastic news that I had secured a place on the Paralympic team! It was a credit to everyone around me and to myself for getting me back to full fitness in time.

How did you find your first Paralympic Games?

Going to Paralympics was amazing and to be honest I can’t really put it into words. On the whole the experience is the best thing I’ve done to date. The Olympic village was a surreal place where you met so many different people, mixed with sports stars including David Weir and Richard Whitehead (two people I got on very well with) and had 24 hour access to food! As a team we played to the best of our abilities and I was just so happy to be a part of the team.

What is the next big event or goal you are preparing for in your sport?

It is nice to be home from Rio and I have taken a month off to relax. I am now back training and working as a community coach for West Ham, three to four days a week. I am not yet sure of my plans yet for international football but the next major international championship is the Intercontinental Cup in Argentina in July 2017.