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On the blog this week, Business graduate Steven Midghall tells us about his life after University. Steven was a member of the University’s Basketball Team, but after graduating in 2002, suffered injuries sustained in a car accident. However Steven has not let this stop him from playing sport, and in his blog, he tells more about his inspiring journey…

Steven Midghall

“At the age of 18 I played basketball for the Chester jets, I wasn’t one of the main players who had any influence on games, but I was part of a team playing in the highest tier of basketball in this country. I decided that being a small English kid, I was never going to make a career out of playing. So after the season was finished, I started my Business Studies degree at the University of Chester, but continued playing basketball at university.

“After graduating with my degree, I worked as a builder to pay the bills while I figured out how best to utilise my degree. After a couple of years of manual graft, I’d decided to move into plastering where I could learn a trade and then combine it with my degree to set up my own building and plastering company – I wanted to make a go of things on my own.

“Unfortunately a couple of weeks after starting my plastering job, I was out on my Christmas night out and was a passenger in a high speed car crash that changed my life forever.

“The next thing I knew, I woke up a little disoriented in a hospital bed in Walton Hospital. It was now January and I’d been in a coma for 4 weeks after suffering a bad brain injury and fracturing one of the vertebrae in my neck. I was left finding it difficult to move, with poor balance and coordination from the brain injury.

“After several months in hospital and neurological rehab, I found myself at home with not a lot of hope for the future. I could hardly walk and it was safe to say my sporting future wasn’t looking too good… or so I thought.

Me in goal at sledge hockey

“After a while getting used to my new life, I decided I could either wallow in self-pity, or make the most of what I had left! So I pulled myself together and got in touch with Everton Football Club. I enquired about their disability program – I couldn’t walk too well, but I used to be a goalkeeper in my youth and I could sure fall over well, so I thought why not give it a try!

“When I first started, I was awful but through lots of stubborn perseverance and numerous bumps and scrapes, I managed to find myself standing on a stage next to the Everton First Team goalkeeper, being awarded the Disabled Player of the Year award in 2009. Not too bad considering I’d not been able to breathe on my own 5 years previous, never mind play football!

“After that experience, I decided to change things up a bit. I attended a Paralympic Talent-ID Day and discovered the game of para ice hockey, or sledge hockey as it was called when I started playing. I started to play for Manchester Phoenix, the sledge hockey team were an associate of the able bodied team in the Euro Hockey League.

In the GB locker room in Russia

“Again, like with the football, I wasn’t very good when I started out, but I still had my ability to learn quickly and my stubbornness, so I quickly improved and won League Most Valuable Player in 2014. I also got selected as part of the GB squad.

“I travelled to a couple of countries and played in friendly tournaments in Russia and Estonia, but unfortunately I had to give that up as the amount of travelling was having negative effects on my health.

“I currently play as part of the Cheshire Phoenix wheelchair basketball team, I’m not quite as good at that, as being hit with a football or a hockey puck requires much less coordination than basketball, but my previous knowledge of the game makes me a useful person to have around.

“I also use my knowledge of the game to help out coaching the under 11s able bodied game. It’s nice to feel useful and being able to pass my knowledge on is great! I’ve learnt that no matter what life throws at you, you should never admit defeat. Although I’ve still got a way to go before I’m satisfied with my recovery, I’ve achieved a lot given my circumstances and I’m sure there’s plenty more to achieve.”

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