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'Once in a lifetime opportunity': Bretton teenager to represent England at Futsal

At just 15 Danny White has been given a ‘Once in a lifetime opportunity’ to represent England in a Futsal tournament in Barcelona in 2022.  
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15-year-old Danny White from Bretton, Peterborough is gearing up to represent England at the youth Futsall tournament in Barcelona in 2022 (Picture: Zoe White)

Bretton boy Danny, who attends Jack Hunt school, has been playing football since he was five. 

Despite his autism diagnosis at aged 10, Danny has stayed positive and kept progressing as a sportsman and has picked up 34 football trophies so far. 

The teenager, whose twin brother is also a football star, is excited to represent the Three Lions in Barcelona at one of the most prestigious youth futsal events, playing against top players from international teams including the USA, Brazil and Spain. 

Futsal is a football game played on a hard court, smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors. It has similarities to five-a-side football. It's played between two teams of five players each, one of who is the goalkeeper. 

Proud mum Zoe White, who has been his biggest support since the start, said "Danny has yet to come back to earth", adding that "it will not sink in until he is on that plane to Barcelona". 

Speaking to Peterborough Matters, Danny said: “I still can’t believe it. I don’t think it has sunk in and I don’t think it will for a while.  I started playing football when I was five. Mum has been buying footballs for me ever since. I take a football with me wherever I go, even on holidays. All through the lockdown, I was out in the garden playing football till late in the night.” 

Danny and his family nearly turned down this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity due to the costs involved.

But after support from Danny’s coach, and family friend Shaun Harley, a fundraising page has been set up to make this dream come true. 

Zoe, who is also Danny's full-time carer, will be accompanying him on his first international trip and is grateful for all the support the teenager has been getting. 

So far, they have raised enough to book their tickets to Barcelona and further funding can help with the other remaining costs.

Danny said: “I very excited to play in Barcelona which is one of my favourite places that I have been wanting to visit. I also always wanted to play at the Barcelona stadium.

“I love my football. 

“After this, some of us could be picked up to play for professional clubs soon. 

“My dream is to play for Liverpool and try and help other people. My favourite player is Mohammed Salah and I even wear the same number jersey as him- 11.” 

 

zoe1Proud mum Zoe White will be accompanying Danny at the tournament in Barcelona (Picture: Zoe White)

Mum is also a big Liverpool fan. She is very proud of Danny but has talked about the effort that has gone in to support him.

Zoe said: “He has cost me a fortune getting him into these academies. It has been hard to try and support him. That’s why we said we need some support we can’t get this done on our own. 

“Shortly after Danny’s autism diagnosis, he took up the fast-paced small-sided version of football - Futsal - and very quickly developed into an accomplished player, featuring in a tournament at the home of English football development - St George's Park. 

“Danny completed successful trials at Peterborough United and Norwich City, but his family have begun to struggle with the financial strain of supporting his travel expenses and are fearful this will hamper his progression when we exit lockdown. 

“We initially said we will say no to this Barcelona trip, because financially it would have been very critical for me. So, the coach suggested a fundraiser and since then it has gone mad. We thought if we could get some support from the people then it would help us a lot in going to this trip and it’s been amazing to see how many people have got behind Danny.  

“I am the loudest voice for him and I will always shout the loudest for him. Very proud and always by his side.  

“It’s a massive life achievement and will encourage him to keep going. It’s big experience for him.  

“I think this is has been mesmerising for us as a family. The support that he has got, I couldn't put in words. It’s amazing.  

“The trial for this tournament was earlier last year so we had actually forgotten a little about it  with everything else that has gone on in the world. 

“But all this hard work, trying to put him into these training sessions and struggling at the end of the month because we have had to get him into these camps, it just feels like it has been worth it. It has not been easy but feels worthy now. And I am so proud. I hope Danny's story inspires more families to support their kids in the same way."

Football is not the only think that has kept Danny busy. He has been helping out in the local area and even raising funds for it. The community has called him 'an inspirational young boy'.

Previously, he has campaigned to organise a group of neighbourhood volunteers to tackle the overgrown trees and bushes in his area. He followed that up with a 500-mile cycle, raising close to £900 for a defibrillator in the community.

Zoe said: “Danny has been doing fundraising for Bretton, litter picking, he has been working to support the community. So, it’s nice to see people appreciating him and supporting him. Even Bretton Parish Councillor, James Hayes has been very supportive of Danny since the community work and has backed him all the way through, which is nice to see.” 

Mr Hayes reacted to the news and said: "What an inspirational young boy. He deserves the support of not just the Bretton residents but the whole city. 

"I remember him from a few years ago. There were concerns of residents not being able to get out of their back gates due to overgrown bushes. He initiated the campaign and I helped gather more people to join and what a difference it made. It was all cleared out and looked good.

"Danny is a great example of what you can achieve when you you beat barriers that come your way. Definitely an inspiration."

So how is Danny preparing for the big day? 

"I found it really tough in lockdown to stay indoors. Especially trying to stay inside during the first six months. I love being outdoors.  

“I have been trying to go down to the playing fields to go and train and play football during the lockdown. Not the best, but we can’t afford to get fined by playing with others. 

“But, when we are back, I am going to work on my weaker leg. I have got to get better with my left foot, need to get that stronger and also work on my positioning before the tournament.” 

The players are not getting any funding for this tournament, so any help for Danny would be appreciated.  

Zoe also said, the coach is going to try and get some additional funding to get the players their own Barcelona tracksuits. 

You can support Danny and help his Mum Zoe here