Banbury's Harry Baker in England team for Cerebral Palsy World Cup in Spain

Banbury’s Harry Baker has been selected to play in the Cerebral Palsy World Cup in Spain at the end of the month.

By Zoe Ashton
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 10:00 am
Banbury's Harry Baker warming up with the England Cerebral Palsy team

The 24-year-old, in his ninth year with the England team, is looking forward to playing again after the enforced pandemic break.

He hasn’t had the opportunity of any competitive International matches due to Covid, but has trained relentlessly throughout the last couple of years.

England played in a friendly last month at St George’s Park beating the USA 1-0, then went onto beat Scotland 3-0, with Harry scoring a goal.

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Harry, who works as a Sports Activator for Cherwell District Council and enjoys inspiring young children in the area, will be flying out to Salou in Spain for the seven-a-side tournament at the end of April with the team and they return mid-May.

England have been drawn in a group with Holland, Canada and Venezuela.

"It’s a good group,” said Harry, a left side hemiplegic, mildly affecting his leg and arm co-ordination.

"We should be able to win it. The way it’s seeded we are in the harder side of the draw – but if we want to win we will have to beat the best.”

England are currently ranked third in the world, behind Ukraine – who the teams are hoping will still manage to compete – and Russia.

Harry’s path into international football began as a junior when he was playing mainstream football and was put forward for a disability award. From there he had trials in disability football and was scouted for England Cerebral Palsy Under 21s at the age of 15 and was playing for the full England team at 16.

"I was doing everything I could not to be branded disabled, playing mainstream football. But after I was spotted I progressed quite quickly,” explained the England left wing and centre back, who plays right back or centre back for Bicester Town.

"I’m feeling good about the World Cup. It’s nice to be back after two years. The squad is looking a lot stronger, wiser and more mature and I think we are capable of winning it.

"With Russia and Ukraine being number one and two in the world, if they are not there, it leaves the door open for us. I’m confident that we can do it."

In the last World Cup in 2019 England lost to Brazil in the third-fourth play-off.