First year student Rhys Swift, has qualified for the FA’s prestigious National Emerging Talent Programme (NETP) for the partially sighted following years of hard work and dedicated training within para football. Rhys, who suffers from aniridia and glaucoma, has been playing professionally since 2017 and is currently working towards securing a place within the performance foundation and England’s partially sighted senior squad who play futsal rather than football. As part of the programme, he receives coaching from England’s FA coaches and his performance is monitored in order that he can be given advice and help on how to reach the next level. The NETP also consists of two days of coaching and playing futsal with other partially sighted players at Lilleshall National Sports and Conferencing Centre where England trained during the 1966 World Cup.
At QE, Rhys studies Business, IT and Media, and he has big plans for the future: ‘My aim is to reach England’s partially sighted senior squad and travel to countries such as Spain and Turkey to take part in futsal world cups and European competitions. I’d like to earn some England caps too’. When asked about he feels to play at an elite level, he replied: ‘Playing with such talented players within the FA Talent Pathway is not only something that I’m really proud to do but it also shows what people are still capable of doing. I think it’s something that would leave most people quite surprised’.