A SOCCER mad student who has battled with a lifelong disability is celebrating after scoring a dream job with a North East football academy.
Ben Potts, who has cerebral palsy, has secured a media role with the Martin Gray Football Academy after completing a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sports at Darlington College.
Football fan Ben, has already undergone six major operations to straighten his knees, lengthen his hamstrings and have a bone graft in his hip.
He said: “I’ve always loved football but never found a way to get into the sport because my disability always held me back.
“In my last two years at school I joined the Martin Gray Academy, which gave me the opportunity to finally play and I really enjoyed it.
“When I found out that Martin was going to be running a further education course at Darlington College I really fancied signing up and was so pleased to get a place.”
Because of his individual needs he gets one to one coaching, working on his health and fitness.
“This really helps to improve my movement and that has impacted on all aspects of my life,” he said.
“At school all I knew was that I didn’t want a nine to five job, I wanted to do something with football but I didn’t know how. Martin’s taken a chance on me and made me feel pretty special.”
Despite Ben’s mobility limiting issues his enthusiasm and passion for the game proved a wining combination to the coach and Darlington Football Club manager.
“It’s really rewarding to be able to give someone so enthusiastic and positive like Ben an opportunity like this,” said former Sunderland midfielder Martin.
“He shone on the course and what he lacks physically on the pitch is more than made up for by his incredible in-depth knowledge of the game. He now writes all of our youth team match day reports and interviews.
“Bringing Ben into the business to look after our youth team website, Facebook and Twitter feeds and report on all our youth games is a great opportunity for him and a real boost to our academy.”
The full time two year course, run in partnership with Darlington College and the Martin Gray Football Academy, offers elite young footballers the chance to study an Extended Diploma in Sports while improving their football skills and fitness with high level coaching.
It has already seen five of its students make their debut for Darlington Football Club and is currently recruiting both boys and girls for next year.
“I met with the college about two years ago to set up the BTEC course, which was about the same time as I took on the management of Darlington FC,” added Martin.