Football-mad Portadown boy Kingston Bryars is on course to achieve one of his greatest wishes, when he takes possession of a specially designed sports wheelchair.
Kingston, who has spina bifida hydrocephalus, is literally counting the days until the £5,239 chair arrives.
The 10-year-old plays for Lightning Powerchair Football Club, based at the Lisburn Leisureplex, but up until now has had to borrow a chair that is not suited to his posture and mobility.
In contrast, the new chair is being custom-made especially for Kingston, a Rectory Rangers and Liverpool supporter, and his family hope it will help him realise his dream of becoming a football coach.
The chair has been made possible thanks to financial support from the charity, Caudwell Children, and sponsorship raised locally by dad Colin and mum Linda.
Colin explained, “I’ve secured sponsorship from the Halifax Building Society and received a donation from Craigavon Council. I’ve also organised a pool competition and raffles and auctions.”
However, the charity and the family are still appealing for more donations as the money goes to help children in the same position as Kingston. In fact, the charity says it is receiving more and more request for help from families in Northern Ireland.
Said Colin, “Kingston has flourished since taking up wheelchair football and not playing the game is not an option for him. To enable Kingston to perform to the maximum of his ability he needs something that’s made to measure.”
The Portadown man believes wheelchair football has given his son new-found confidence. He said, “Kingston attends school in Belfast, which means that he can’t play with friends after school.
“Since taking up wheelchair football he has made new friends closer to home, and he’s started to come out of his shell. He has more self-esteem and he really looks forward to the weekend when he can play football with his pals.”
Currently there are only two Powerchair football clubs in Northern Ireland, which means the team has to travel, once a month, to play competitive matches against clubs in southern Ireland.
Although this has entailed travelling as far as Limerick, Colin says it has been a great experience for Kingston.
He explained, “The regular trip south of the border has developed a great sense of camaraderie within the team and Kingston is coming into contact with more children, and adults, which has been really good for him.”
Said Kingston, “I love wheelchair football as it’s perfect for my condition, and it’s really exciting when you’re playing.”