A FATHER whose disabled son struggled in mainstream football coaching has launched his own club for youngsters.

Chris Thebe launched Middleton Rangers Disability Football Club, in Darlington, after his seven-year-old son, Joseph, struggled to keep up with his able-bodied friends during football practice.

The youngster, who suffers from a form of cerebral palsy, loves to play football and had travelled to Newcastle a number of times to take part in special football sessions for children with disabilities.

However the distance from his Darlington home eventually proved to be too far.

As a result, Mr Thebe launched his own disability football club in Darlington, which has gone from strength to strength since its launch last September.

“There are clubs in Newcastle, Leeds and Middlesbrough, but they are all just a little bit too far,” said Mr Thebe.

“Joseph loved the one in Newcastle, but it was so far away.

“We started the club last September when we had two people – Joseph and his friend. Now we have about 14 kids. Joseph absolutely loves it.”

The club caters for youngsters with a range of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, and behavioural problems, and has players from Darlington, Catterick and Stockton.

Mr Thebe, who runs the club voluntarily with help from his wife Sara, said: “When I look back to this time last year and we were talking about it, I was a bit apprehensive about it as I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

“But the feedback from the parents is that there is a gap for this type of club.

“The parents get a lot out of it as well. They get to have a break for an hour, and also get to talk to parents who are in a similar situation to themselves.

“The kids are so affectionate and they all look forward to coming down and really appreciate what we are doing and what it does for them.”

The club trains at Skerne Park Youth and Community Centre and Eastbourne Sports Complex, in Darlington, and is appealing for more coaches to help train the youngsters.

They are also in training for a cerebral palsy football tournament which will be held on April 19, at Eastbourne Sports Complex, in Darlington, from noon to 3pm.

For more information on the club call 07803-308-005, visit middletonrangers.com or email chris.thebe@gmail.com