Wrexham Inclusion Football Club are celebrating after two days of tough competition in the European Mental Health Championships saw them rank in the top ten of the competition,
15 representatives from the club, which is regarded as the largest disability football club in Wales, headed to Munich last week to take part in the Regenbogen Cup, the European Mental Health Championships.
Taking place in the suburbs of Haar, Munich, the team faced a gruelling two days of football against teams from across Europe.
The is the biggest disability football club in Wales and the biggest Voluntary Club on the disability circuit in the UK. It caters for people from various backgrounds including disability, mental health, social isolation, criminal justice, substance misuse and much more.
It was the second time the team have taken part in the European Mental Health Championships, having finished fourth overall last year.
This year the competition began with Wrexham Inclusion Football Club taking on the Czech champions CDZ Prag. After starting slowly WIFC fell behind and eventually losing the game 1-0.
The team’s next game was against German team – Prop Aigsldorf – who started the week as favourites for the competition. A tense match saw WIFC change to a possession based game with a hugely effective influence, resulting in them winning the game 2-1 thanks to goal scorers Luke Armstrong and Jamie Hall.
Wrexham’s third game of the day saw them play against the Slovakian representatives who ran out with three out of three wins in the games before.
WIFC began the game strongly and kept possession, resulting in the team scoring the first goal of the match. However with they conceded within 30 seconds after shutting off and the ended in 1-1 draw.
Fourth game of the day saw the WIFC team take on host team REBO United, who played a very deep line but couldn’t cope with the sharpness of the Wrexham’s passing and possession based play, seeing them crowned the winners with three goals to nil.
Wrexham’s fifth and final game of day one of the competition group stages saw the team throw away a three goal lead and draw 3 -3.
Day two of the tournament saw the Wrexham team face more tough competition against some of the best teams in Europe.
Kicking off stage two of the championships saw the team take on Real Bad Tolz, who played deep against Wrexham’s possession based play.
Being two nil down at half time the oranges came out of the blocks early and scored a tremendous free kick early. But this was the only goal conceded by the Wrexham team, who progressed to the final eight of the competition.
With just three games remaining WIFC took on a team who played on their own 18 yard line and soaked up the pressure through out. They increased the pressure throughout the game, coming close on a couple of occasions but unfortunately the goal needed eluded Wrexham and the game finished 0-0.
It was good news against a strong Maxi Furth team of Slovakia, with WIFC coming out the comfortable winners with three goals to nil; seeing the team progress to the quarter final stage of the competition.
Unfortunately a 0-0 draw in normal time against FC Regenbogan saw WIFC face penalties to book a place in the semi finals. In a tight round Wrexham lost out 4-3.
The team still scored a remarkable achievement over the two day period, coming in sixth position in the overall competition.
General Manager Wayne Greenshields said: “Munich 2018 for the WIFC was a fantastic experience. Yet again the city of Munich was more than fantastic to us. From the stadium tour, the weather, the hotel, transport system and of course the football
“For 15 players from little old Wrexham to not only compete in European football but dominate the tournament from start to finish. The lads adapted well to the competition and played in a possession based style never seen in mental health football in the UK.
“Sadly and cruelly we lost on the luck of penalties in the final eight.
“The four day trip has helped the guys become closer together and friendships have been increased”
Away from the pitch the WIFC team had the chance to visit the Allianz Arena in Munich ahead of the start of the tournament. General manager Wayne Greenshields also had an interview with the German media about the competition
Football Manager Carl Austin said “Absolutely pleasure to manage and be part of this amazing trip which seen us dominate every game the football and banter has been incredible and to see how much they have embraced the trip is truly brilliant.
“I absolutely love that Wrexham Inclusion FC are able to give opportunities to players from Mental Health and Disability backgrounds. It shows sometimes people just need someone to believe in them and they can overcome anything.”
Head of Media Andrew Calton added: “I am so proud of the team as a whole. To lose only one game in two days and go eight games undefeated was astonishing and with some of the best football I’ve ever seen at Wrexham Inclusion Football Club.
“Such a shame we were cruelly eliminated on penalties at the quarter final stage. I’m confident enough that we would have surpassed last year’s 4th place.
“Thanks as always to my two colleagues who have put hours upon hours into making the trip happen. Absolute pleasure to work along side yourselves Carl Austin and Wayne Greenshields
“The gratitude shown from the players is something I won’t forget and a massive thanks from me personally for making the trip so enjoyable and easy to run”
Individual award winners for the trip are as follows as picked by the management:
- Player of the tournament – Aron Hall
- Biggest Impact- Luke Brown
- Unsung hero- Phil Roberts
- Moment of the tournament – Luke Armstrong
- Most embraced- Jack Hughes
You can follow Wrexham Inclusion Football Club on Facebook to find out more information / get involved with weekly sessions at Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.
Picture Credits Andy Calton