Banbury football star set to shine on world stage

Harry Baker (red shirt) and Michael Cartmell of England Senior C P Squad during the England CP Squad training session at St Georges Park. Photo by Tony Marshall - The FA/The FA via Getty Images. NNL-150527-105117001
Harry Baker (red shirt) and Michael Cartmell of England Senior C P Squad during the England CP Squad training session at St Georges Park. Photo by Tony Marshall - The FA/The FA via Getty Images. NNL-150527-105117001

A Banbury footballer born with Cerebral Palsy is gearing up to represent his country at the World Championships next month.

Harry Baker had hemiplegia on his left side as a result of the condition and intially struggled to get into a team at a young age.

But after playing regularly from the age of seven, his commitment and determination saw him play for Chenderit School, the Northampton pan disability football team and West Midlands before making his England debut in 2010.

He now has 27 caps and will next month represent his country at the CP World Championships at St George’s Park, the home of the England national team. They will face Iran, Ukraine and Japan, with their first game on June 16.

The 18-year-old right back, from Sulgrave, said: “When I was younger I was told I wasn’t strong enough and not capable of playing, which upset me, but once I got the chance I played every game from the age of nine up to 17.

“I got teased a lot at primary school because of my balance, but once I was at Chenderit I made a lot of good friends and the school really helped me. My mum and Spiceball Leisure Centre have also played a big part in my development, particularly with my physiotherapy. There are lots of opportunities for people like me to get into disability football, but sometimes there is not enough coverage about it. The world championship is going to be fantastic and a great experience for me.”

The Manchester United fan is also looking ahead to the future, where his goal is to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.