Wheel deal: Spirited ref Nathan is back in business thanks to chair cash boost
GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S gallant first wheelchair-reliant referee Nathan Mattick can motor on once more with his passion for football!
The spirited 23-year-old Cheltenham Town supporter from Hucclecote appealed for help as the electric chair he relies so heavily on to carry out his many activities and everyday duties was on the brink of a permanent breakdown.
Undeterred, Nathan, who has cerebral palsy, set up an online Crowdfunder page in a bid to generate the £8,900 needed to buy a brand-new one.
Among the 135 individuals and organisations donating to the cause, Gloucestershire FA (GFA), whom Nathan represents so enthusiastically as a level 7 referee qualified to take charge of adult games, contributed the final £2,180 to ensure he achieved his target tally.
Nathan’s determination to overcome his condition and live life to the full has won admirers far and wide. He completed his referee training course with the GFA around five years ago in his wheelchair to become the first qualified wheelchair-using official in the county.
He has been running the rule over Gloucestershire FA Ability Counts League games since 2014 and having been a member of Gloucestershire FA Youth Council, he these days volunteers with the Active Gloucestershire charity.
Not content with that little lot, Nathan is a co-trainer with Building Circles, which provides social support and friendship for adults with learning disabilities in the county.
The aspiring official also visits schools and speaks to pupils about disability and mechanisms for coping with bullying, while his love for Cheltenham Town FC extends to selling matchday programmes on behalf of the League Two club and membership of the Robins Trust Board.
Rugby is never far from Nathan’s mind either – top international referee Nigel Owens, who will be taking up the whistle in this year’s World Cup in Japan starting in September, a “hero” of his.
As part of his Crowdfunder appeal, Nathan wrote: “I have cerebral palsy and, for me, my powered wheelchair is my legs.
“However these chairs typically only have a lifespan of about six years and following a recent service of my current chair I’ve found that it’s beyond its economical life to carry out essential repairs and it could ‘die’ on me at any time.
“So I'm in urgent need of replacing it. Living with a disability can be very challenging: I try to be as active and as independent as possible but, of course, I need my powered wheelchair to do this.”
Nathan was handed a cheque for £2,180 by GFA chief executive David Neale at a presentation hosted by Cheltenham Town FC, which was also attended by GFA chairman Roger Burden and referee development officer Roger Vaughan, along with Cheltenham Town club secretary Paul Godfrey.
David Neale acknowledged: "We’re grateful to Gloucester Referees Association as they highlighted Nathan’s fundraising programme and his urgent need for a new wheelchair.
We were delighted to help and the GFA board readily agreed to provide the extra funding needed to achieve Nathan’s target.
“Providing playing opportunities for all and helping people participate in football is a priority and we felt that ensuring Nathan could continue to participate as an FA-qualified referee and support the Ability Counts League was a great way to use some of our funds.”
Roger Vaughan added: “Nathan has been a fully committed referee for a number of years.
“Whilst his opportunity has been limited in able-bodied football, his enthusiasm and passion is second to none.
“This has been an excellent opportunity for the GFA to support Nathan in obtaining a new wheelchair that will enable him to continue refereeing and enhance his involvement.”
Nathan added: “This wheelchair will give me a new lease of life to continue what I love doing, which is refereeing.”