Talking parasports with Danny Harris, from Exeter City Community Trust

Dec 14, 2021

Exeter’s sporting achievements seem to go from strength to strength. At the time of writing, our football team, Exeter City, are closing in on the top of the table. But if you’re part of Exeter’s disabled community, you might well be wondering what opportunities there are for you to take part in team sports across the city.

Thanks to health and wellbeing charity Exeter City Community Trust, the partner charity of Exeter City Football Club, there are plenty, many of which lead to competitive games and tournaments with other teams. 

Danny Harris is Deputy Head of Community at Exeter City Community Trust, so part of his job is to ensure that all parts of that community feel welcome and able to get involved in the activities on offer through their parasports programme. 

One of the activities is para football. Aimed at disabled adults, the team trains each Sunday and participates in tournaments every 4-6 weeks against other teams in Devon. The team consists of members with different disabilities, and Danny says that his team of coaches couldn’t be prouder of what each team member achieves.

He says: ‘Encouraging our staff members to volunteer for these clubs on their days off is quite an ask, but they absolutely love running the sessions, building up relationships with the team members and watching them succeed. It’s good for everybody to be part of this and our team loves the chance to be involved.’

In addition to para football, the charity also runs a weekly powerchair group – aimed at those in wheelchairs, this group meets every Saturday at Riverside Leisure Centre. The group had to take a break whilst the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height, but Danny is pleased to report that they are back and once again meeting on a weekly basis. 

Other groups include regular mental health sessions at Riverside, focussing on those in recovery or living in sheltered accommodation. As well as this, there is a deaf 11-a-side football team which plays at Exwick Sports Hub every other Sunday and participates in matches against other deaf teams. 

Danny says that the emphasis with all elements of the charity’s parasports programme is on getting stuck in, and that the team’s successes are down to the fact that the charity looks very much beyond a person’s disability. 

‘At CCT we want everybody to know that it is possible to still take part in competitive sport, regardless of their ability level. Watching our team members overcome their fears and anxieties and learning to not just take part but to fall in love with sport and to succeed, that’s enough to keep us going and want to do even more.’

Find out more about Exeter City Community Trust’s parasports programme here.

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