Jonathan Bolding is England’s Powerchair Football Team captain heading to Australia for the FIPFA Powerchair Football World Cup 2023. The team is currently 3rd ranked in the world and one of 10 nations competing for the 2023 trophy. Jonathan, a highly experienced player with an impressive 21-year track record has already participated in three world cups, the fourth one upcoming. In this interview he explains what he enjoys about the sport and how the team is set to secure a victory in Australia.
Q: How did you get into Powerchair Football?
My parents exposed me to disabled sport from a young age. I love football and was lucky to have Middlesex Football Association come to my school. They handed out a flyer about the first ever tournament in the country, I was immediately interested. The sport was fairly new at the time in England, it was mainly played in USA and Japan. I attended the tournament and really loved the game. Two weeks later I was invited to go to Japan.
Without Powerchair Football I wouldn’t have experienced half of what I have in my life.
Q: How has Powerchair Football affected your life?
It mainly grows you as a person, I’ve met so many new people within the sport. As a disabled person you have many struggles but when you are on the field you forget about it. It’s had a massive impact on my life and it constantly amazes me to see the people that play the sport and what they’ve done to get to where they are.
Q: What is your unique strength in the team?
I’m quite a big personality. So obviously, I’m captain of my club Aspire and my country, so I feel like I’m a good leader. Especially for the young stars, I feel like I’m there for them to lead them in the right direction. They can trust in me with anything they need both on and off the pitch, and that’s how I feel.
Q: Most memorable Powerchair Football moment?
Winning the 2019 European Powerchair Football Association (EPFA) Nations Cup. That was the one that stands out because I always dreamt of winning something with England.
Q: What do you think sets your team apart from other teams in the World Cup?
We play a unique kind of style of football – it’s known as the 4 Out Formation, where our goalkeeper isn’t just a static goalkeeper that sits in the box just saving the shots. We kind of get everyone involved up the pitch. That makes us unique. And the style of football we play is very, very risky, obviously.
Q: Biggest opponent at the Cup? France. They are currently the World Cup holders.
Q: How do you stay motivated? Do you have a special ritual pre-cup?
We firmly believe that if we play our way to our maximum we will win every time. Motivational words and favorite song playlists help lift our energy and get the adrenalin going before the game.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is interested in playing powerchair football?
Visit your local team, if you don’t know the local team usually the wheelchair football association can help to connect you. Just go down and give it go, even if you’re not 100%. You can always come away and not go back again. But at least, if you’ve given it a try, you can make your own decision then, and not just base it on what you’ve heard or what you haven’t heard.
Q: What do you look forward to in the future?
Winning the World Cup next month. That’s the immediate future and then the Champions League next year.
Q: What do you want people to know about Powerchair Football?
My aim is just to get as many people involved in the sport, because it’s made a massive impact on my life, and I know it can make a massive impact on so many other people’s lives.
If you know anyone, not even if they’re disabled, just anyone that enjoys football. Just watch a game, see what the support is about, and if you don’t necessarily like it, just share it. And someone else out there might like it, and it might interest someone that didn’t know existed.
Thank you, Jonathan. Go England!
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