Chelsea Football Club was once again involved in an iconic torch relay as members of our Chelsea Community FC team carried the flame ahead of the Paralympic opening ceremony in London tonight (Wednesday).

Last month former England captain and Chelsea fan Lawrence Dallaglio brought the London 2012 Olympic torch into Stamford Bridge during his leg of that relay. Westminster at lunchtime today was the location for Chelsea Community FC, which is our official pan-disability football club, to play their part.

Lord Sebastian Coe nominated the players to take part in the relay so braving the capital city’s late summer rain that arrived the moment they lit their torch, Sami El-Kasef, Gareth Canning, Jay Beckford and Matt Slough, plus Chelsea FC Foundation’s Football+ development manager Rob Seale, ran from Westminster Abbey along Artillery Row in the direction of Victoria.

Sami and Gareth both have cerebral palsy while Jay is visually impaired and Matt has learning difficulties.

‘It was absolutely fantastic,’ said Searle.

‘Some of the younger members of our club came along and were at the side of road chanting “Chelsea, Chelsea” and the guys savoured every moment of it. The crowd drew our attention first and then we looked up and thought wow, that is Westminster Abbey or that is Trafalgar Square behind us.

‘There was a bit of a delay with the torch so there was time to get to know the other torchbearers and now some are going to come along to our training sessions. So, as a bonus, we’ve managed to get a few new players out of today as well!’

Football is one of the Paralympic events with a five-a-side and seven-a-side competition taking place in the Olympic Park.

Josh Beacham, who came through the Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence which the Chelsea Foundation opened in 2011, was part of the GB squad but unfortunately might be ruled out through injury.

‘A few of our guys have got tickets to the football,’ says Seale, ‘and with my recent involvement with the England Blind Development Squad, I was lucky enough to work with some of the players who will be in the Paralympics.

‘It really is the top of the game; everyone wants to play in the Paralympics. GB teams competed in Beijing and Sydney do they are established and that’s exactly what everyone’s after, a place in the GB squad.’

Click to read more information about Chelsea Community FC.

 ‘Sport doesn’t care who you are. Everyone can take part’. Like that sentiment? Please watch & share this powerful new video previewing the raw athleticism of the Paralympics.
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