Champions league football beckons for Sprowston teenager

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The 17-year-old photography student is now competing at the highest level in England, having taken up power chair football five years ago.

And the Chelsea fan now plays for London-based club Aspire PFC, Premiership winners seven times in the last 10 years.

But with the Champions League looming in Denmark this October, Rosie needs £6,500 for a new chair or risks dropping out of the sport.

Rosie’s problems began when she was diagnosed with rare primary lymphedema at around 18 months old, according to mum Tina, 43.

“She had a cherry mark on her thigh, which got rather bigger and started to leak a milky fluid,” she said.

“Nobody knew what it was. After a lot of tests, we were told it was lymphedema. 
“When she was eight or nine she had some debulking operations, but it gradually became worse. 
“Eventually her pelvis collapsed and she had bone infections one after the other. At that stage she had to have cement put into her pelvis to stablise it. She had cracked vertebrae, which is contained using a lot of painkillers.”

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Rosie originally started playing wheelchair basketball, but her condition worsened and she was unable to continue, taking up powerchair football.

“That was the best decision of my life,” said Rosie. “Since then I have been going to Nottingham to compete in the national league, and travelled to Portugal for a training camp with players from all around the world.

“I try to forget about my condition and carry on normally. 
“It is hard. Sometimes I would be at college and get interrupted because my back or my arms are hurting. That is a challenge, but I would rather my condition does not take control of me. 
“The problem now is these new chairs are being introduced to the league, and this is a must-have chair to be able to stay in the sport. It’s essential for me to be able to stay at the top level and progress even more. I need the chair to be on an even playing field.
“The sport is progressing and if you are left behind you are left behind. It is very fast moving. The Champions League is in October and that would be an honour.”

The powerchair football Champions League is a five-day event, with two days training and a three-day tournament. Rosie and her team will travel by ferry to compete against 11 of the best teams around Europe. Each fund their own travel.

Cauldwell Children’s Trust provided Rosie with her first chair, but will be unable to fund the new Strike Force model, the family have been told.

“The chair she has got is OK for the English league, but it would be like racing a Skoda and Ferrari in Europe because they all play on these Strike Force chairs,” Mrs Hodgson explained.
“As far as I see it this is Rosie’s only way of socialising with other like-minded people who are in a situation like hers.
“They get a whole group of people playing at the same level, and that is important to her. She is a very good player, and to be able to pursue her dream is brilliant for her.

“Rosie is such a happy soul, and she tried to do 100pc in everything she does.”

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/rosiestrikeforce