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Football mad Jude selected as ambassador for Together We Will

Meet Jude, a football mad eight year old whose motivation and enthusiasm to be active has led him to live a healthy and happy life. Jude and his dad share their experiences of being active together as a family, to encourage other disabled people, along with their family and friends to take part in sport and exercise.

Campaign ambassador Jude Liversage and his dad smiling and holding a Together We Will campaign board.

Jude, who has cerebral palsy is a football mad eight year old. Since he was born his dad, Tony Liversage has always tried to ensure that Jude has the same opportunities to have fun and be active as other children his age, including his twin sister Marcie.  

Jude has faced a number of obstacles from a young age in order to live an active lifestyle, particularly when playing his favourite sport, football.

Jude has limited mobility in his lower legs and the lack of suitable opportunities nearby sometimes prevented him from taking part in local community sports activities. Other children’s levels of ability and stamina, often left Jude feeling excluded and demotivated.

Tony is determined for both Jude and Marcie to have happy, healthy and active childhoods. So they attended an event organised by Cerebral Palsy Sport in 2011 to see what opportunities were available for Jude and Marcie to enjoy together. The advice from the National Disability Sports Organisation was invaluable.

With limited access to facilities locally, doting dad Tony committed to driving Jude 150 miles every fortnight to Oldham to attend a specialist cerebral palsy football session. Witnessing the set up first hand inspired Tony to set up a CP football group in Staffordshire, Stafford Town Cerebral Palsy FC so people in their local community could have access to the same opportunities. Stafford Town Cerebral Palsy FC now has 18 players from age four to 18 years old. The team is a fully inclusive club who trains at Weston Road Academy and is always actively seeking new players.

Taking part in regular physical activity as a family has been instrumental to Jude’s rehabilitation. Jude recently underwent life-changing surgery (selective Dorsal Rhizotomy at Portland Hospital) in which some of the nerves running between his muscles and spine were cut to allow his legs more movement.

Throughout Jude’s rehabilitation his family and supporters focused physiotherapy exercises around fun football techniques and terminology. From his dad setting up cones in the living room, to using goal posts to motivate Jude to walk again after his surgery. Football gets Jude excited about being active.

A year on from his operation, together with his family, friends and support network, Jude regularly exercises.. This includes Jude’s Godfather, Tim Thwaites a local coach at Silverdale Boxing Club, who coaches Jude every weekend in circuit training to help him build up his core strength. 

Being active and taking part in lots of activity with family and friends has been instrumental to Jude’s physical, mental and social well-being. Cerebral Palsy Sport has and will continue to provide advice, support and opportunities for Jude and his family to have fun and be active together.

Jude’s dad, Tony Liversage commented:

“It’s fantastic to be asked to be part of the Together We Will campaign. Sport plays a huge part in our family life, so it’s great to be able to share our story and help others get active too.
“From day one Jude has been running around with a football at his feet, but growing up it was tough finding access to take part in with children of a similar ability and age.
“There are many organisations out there to help give disabled people and their families support in finding activities which are suited for them - Cerebral Palsy Sport was great at introducing us to dedicated CP football leagues which have been life changing to keep Jude healthy and happy.”

Lisa Morton-Smith, National Sports Development Manager from Cerebral Palsy Sport said:

“CP Sport’s aim is to support people with cerebral palsy to reach their potential through sport, and lead a happy, healthy lifestyle.
"Jude and his family are a fantastic example of the opportunities available and how sport and active recreation can have a positive impact on the whole family.
"CP Sport is excited to be involved in the Together We Will campaign to support others like Jude and Tony access sport and activity.”

This summer, Jude is now gearing up along with his team mates for another busy football season.

To find out more about Cerebral Palsy Sport, the country's leading disability sports organisation supporting children and adults with cerebral palsy to reach their sporting potential - please visit Cerebral Palsy Sport website or call 0115 925 7027.

The Together We Will campaign has now come to an end, but you can continue to find lots of information about the National Disability Sports Organisations, support available and opportunities to be active here.

Together We Will was brought to you by the National Disability Sports Organisations in partnership with EFDS and was supported by Sport England.