Wrexham will be returning to European action next week when the Wrexham Disability Football Club head to Germany to compete in the European Mental Health Championship.
The club, which is regarded as the biggest disability football club in Wales, will set off for the two day tournament in Munich on Monday 22nd May.
Established five years ago, Wrexham DSA supports, develops and enhances the lives of people within, but not limited to, the following areas; disability, mental health, substance misuse, criminal justice, social isolation, homelessness, poverty and many more.
It now boasts up to 40 people coming to training sessions each month.
Preparation for the Munich trip began in September 2016 and since then the club has been working tirelessly to fundraise the £3500 required to make the trip possible.
Over the past nine months fundraising efforts such as bucket collections, quiz nights, foot golf and backpacking in local supermarkets, have all taken place in a bid to raise the funds needed.
It will be the first time Wrexham has been represented in Europe since 1995, when Wrexham FC lost 1-0 to Romanian team Petrolul Ploiesti.
Players are already dreaming of representing Wrexham and the experience will be extra special for some members of the team, who will be leaving Wales for the first time.
Team Manager Carl Austin said the support from the community during their journey had been ‘truly humbling’.
He said: “When we announced we where going try fundraise in order to get us to Munich it was just a pipe dream, as we needed to raise about £3500 to cover flights, passports, hotels, tournament fee and transfers. In truth I thought it was a tall order.
“But the support we had from the community has been amazing and truly humbling. This is not a free trip even for the players as each player has had to contribute something also, as it makes the trip more appreciated. Now with the tournament just around the corner it’s overwhelming that we actually achieved it.”
Carl added: “On the field i want them to go out there and perform to best of their ability and give 100%. We have achieved great things on the U.K. Circuit so hopefully we can take our form on a European stage.
“The results are really secondary for the staff though as this experience will hopefully be life changing and help massively with the players mental health on their road to recovery.”
It will be non-stop for the team when they arrive in Munich next week, with the players experiencing a tour of Allianz Arena on Tuesday. On Wednesday the players will get down to action when they face over four hours of football as part of the seven aside, two day tournament. The club will return home on Friday 26th May.
General manager, Wayne Greenshields said: “Teams from England, Wales, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy and Slovenia will battle it out over two days to be crowned champions.
“No Welsh team has ever competed in this competition so the Welsh dragon makes its maiden voyage, England have seen great success in this competition, none more recent that Middlesborough Community Foundation who won the title last year with domination.
“In our recent visit up to the North East we beat Middlesbrough in the social inclusion cup final to pick up silverware. This leaves the squad in great confidence as they prepare to leave next Monday.”
Wrexham Disability Football Club has received huge support from the local community since the launch of their fundraising campaign last year – with a wealth of local businesses pledging their support to the team.
The team’s final project was to have a flag made to take everywhere with them in Munich.
Andy Calton Media Manager said: “We decided we wanted something to remember the trip by, so myself and Wayne came up with the idea of having a flag made for us to tour with.
“It was decided that to cover costs we would get local businesses to support it by having there company logo place upon the flag for a set price of £25 per logo. the idea started off better than anticipated and filled up within a week, so we then adjusted the size of the flag to accommodate more and that filled up.
“Eventually after the flag had been increased in size four times it was decided it was full. 29 local business had sponsored us and we were immensely grateful for the public support with the finished flag really looking good.”
The team hope that their time in Munich will offer a dream, a chance and a hope to people watching that maybe their mental health, disability or stigma could improve through football.