Emerging Talent Rhys Swift

Introducing Bader Grant Recipient, Emerging Talent Rhys Swift!

Rhys, one of our latest cohort of Grant Recipients, was born with Aniridia, a rare condition where the iris (the coloured part of your eye) has not formed properly, and also has glaucoma, high pressure within the eye.
He applied for a Bader Grant because having been accepted to be a part of the Para FA England National Emerging Talent Programme for Futsal, a great acknowledgement of his talent and commitment, he needed to be playing Futsal* more frequently to gain match practice and increase his skills. As he said, this proves difficult when it comes to transport as the cost of covering long distances to venues in order to play more has only been increasing. Along with that, accommodation is also a necessity for many of the trips given that the distance is so far from home.
(*For the uninitiated, Wikipedia explains: Futsal is a football-based game played on a hard court smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors. It has similarities to five-a-side football and indoor football. It is played between two teams of five players each, one of whom is the goalkeeper. Unlimited substitutions are permitted. Unlike some other forms of indoor soccer, it is played on a hard court surface marked by lines; walls or boards are not used. It is played with a smaller, harder, lower-bounce ball than football. The surface, ball and rules favour ball control and passing in small spaces. The game emphasises control, improvisation, creativity and technique. These attributes must make it ideal for partially sighted players.)
From an early age Rhys showed a natural talent for football and started playing for Leyburn Juniors in mainstream Football at just 7 years old! He was lucky enough to be awarded a medal by his Football Hero, Michael Dawson, during his time at Leyburn.
Emerging Talent Rhys Swift
Rhys being awarded a medal by Michael Dawson during his time playing for Leyburn
6 years ago, when he was 12, Rhys was put forward for an England Talent Day by his Leyburn Juniors coach. His father, David, says he has attended lots of trials, including being one of 12 partially sighted players in the whole of England to get to the Para FA Regional Talent Programme.
During this time Rhys also played for Leeds United Foundation Pan Disability Team. He featured in the match day programme twice and was invited down to Leeds United training ground to meet the payers and receive a signed shirt!
Rhys’s father, David, describes him as “such a talented player with a great attitude with everything he does“.
Emerging Talent Rhys Swift
Rhys with members of the Leeds Team
(As well as meeting the players, Rhys was also given a signed Leeds Football shirt.)
As a consequence of getting into the Regional Programme, Rhys then attended a trial in August 2021 for the Para FA National Emerging Talent in Lilleshall, where the England 66 team used to train! Lilleshall Hall is now one of three National Sports Centres, alongside Bisham Abbey and Plas y Brenin.
Rhys outside Lillishall where the England 66 Team used to train.

Rhys’s talent has been recognised and he has now been invited to showcase his abilities alongside the Development Squad in April, which is when the England Partially Sighted Futsal Team select players to their Senior Squad! We’ll keep our fingers crossed that this inspiring young footballer makes selection.

To add to his achievements, Rhys is also now part of the Partially Sighted Futsal League where he plays for The Scorpions!

Below are some photos and a video of Rhys in action playing Futsal for the Partially Sighted Football League.

Emerging Talent Rhys Swift

Rhys Swift Emerging Talent

We were delighted to support Emerging Talent Rhys Swift with a Bader Grant to help towards costs involved in travelling to matches to enable him to play more frequently and make the most of his undoubted talent. He is a gifted, dedicated and very hard working and determined athlete and we’re proud to have been able to help him towards achieving his dream of playing at the very top of his sport. We have no doubt he’ll get there.

Rhys says of his Bader Grant:

The Douglas Bader Foundation has massively helped me through providing funding for the likes of both travel and accommodation and as a result has greatly supported me on my path to achieve greater things within Para FA England partially sighted Futsal.
Rhys Swift, Para FA England National Emerging Talent Programme for Futsal

We’re happy that his father, David, who has kindly contributed several of these photos and the following video, is also relieved. He reported that following the allocation of the Bader Grant, they had covered 1100 miles in 3 weeks travelling to Futsal matches!

I’ll end with a video where Rhys’s talent is evident. It was taken at the weekend when Rhys was competing in the PSFL in Manchester.


Rhys has been so fortunate to have such positive role models supporting every step of his life in Football and in his education. David Swift