Double amputee, 12, star of school football team and plays in goal – despite only having one arm
Goalie Thomas Atkinson is the star of his school football team – even though he’s only got ONE ARM.
Footy-mad double amputee Thomas, 12, from Carlisle, Cumbria, even captains the year seven side at Richard Rose Morton Academy, donning his single goalkeeper’s glove and number one shirt to help his team to victory.
Born without his left hand, Thomas also had to have his left leg amputated as a one-year-old as his foot hadn’t developed properly.
Doctors told Thomas’ parents, Gary, 52, and Nicola, 42, that their son would face a series of operations throughout his childhood if they were to attempt to correct his leg and advised them to amputate.
But the family’s fears have been put to rest having spent hours on the touchline cheering on Thomas as he played in his school team and local junior side, Northbank U12s.
By wearing his sporting leg prosthetic, Thomas has found he is more than capable of keeping up with his mates and doesn’t even bother with an arm prosthetic as it only holds him back.
The only source of tension in the house though is that while Gary and brother Daniel, 16, are Wigan Athletic fans, Thomas, his sisters Becky, 19, and Leah, 15, and Nicola are all Liverpool supporters.
Thomas said: “I have been captain for the school team from when we started in secondary school. I just love playing football.
“I play all the time with friends out and about, even when I haven’t got training for school or my local team.
“While I’m good at Fifa, I’d much rather be playing out on the field with my mates – I’m better at playing in real life.
“It feels natural to me and I’m fine keeping up with everyone else, I’ve never had problems.
“I’d say my favourite players are Christiano Ronaldo and Neymar – they’re both really skilled and talented players who are great role models for kids like me.
“My favourite subject is obviously PE and I like IT as well – I’m good with presentations and computers, but I find maths quite easy.”
Gary said: “Thomas was a natural at football when he started and comes from a family that are all supporters.
“At school, Thomas will play in goal and has a glove on his right arm, but because it feels more natural to him to play without a prosthetic arm, he doesn’t use one.
“Thomas doesn’t even bother with a left arm as he doesn’t need it to do well, he’s got a sportsman’s brain, anyway.
“He gets so much use out of his sports prosthetic leg that he wears it on and off the pitch now – Thomas began to wear his sports prosthetic full time, after he broke eight regular ones playing football.
“Thomas loves doing as much sport as he can and when he’s not playing as captain of the school team, he’ll play up front for the local able-bodied junior side, Northbank U12s – and we’re always cheering him on.
“When Thomas was born, he didn’t have his left arm and his left leg had not developed properly.
“The doctor told us that if Thomas kept his leg, it would mean he would have to endure operations until he was an adult and it would mean that he couldn’t participate with his classmates.
“Although it was a hard decision at first, we knew that he would be able to grow up active with his friends.
“I am really proud of him and I’m always down on the touchline supporting him.”
Dave Tweed, head of the EAFA’s football development, said: “EAFA, as a totally volunteer organisation, is very proud of the work that is has done over the years providing grassroots opportunities for amputee and limb affected adults.
“The fact that we are continuing to grow, and now include a junior programme is fantastic progress for us.
“The reward in seeing these young players kick a ball, for the first time in some in some cases, is wonderful for all involved.
“The more links we can create with professional clubs across the country, the more opportunities we can provide and increase participation at all levels.”