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Cardiff Character: Luke Degilbert

Rising football star is set to impress in disability football tournament

Typically, living with autism can render it more difficult to communicate, form relationships and make sense of surroundings. Team player Luke Degilbert (21) is an ambitious character and refuses to let his autism get in the way of his football dream or his upcoming tournament.

On 13 November, Newport Dragons Disability Football Club will take part in the first tournament of the season in Pontypridd, competing against teams including: RCT Tigers, Coed-Eva, Race, Barry Town and Cardiff. Luke, who lives in Newport, is a very talented and driven striker and joined the team over a year ago. He says he is going to work hard at the tournament to make his coaches proud after all the support he has received from them.

The very talented Luke Gilbert hopes to impress at the tournament

Talented Luke Degilbert proudly wearing his Newport County jacket

Pitch perfect

Sarah Wheddon is the club’s welfare officer and says she has “great expectations” for Luke’s success at the tournament. Sarah said Luke fits in excellently and has a great bond with the other players. She adds that his efforts don’t go unnoticed and his progression has been “fabulous”.

At the team’s most recent awards night, Luke won a medal for ‘outstanding achievement’ and said this was for the hard work he put into the games. He was also extremely excited about scoring five goals during his recent game and took to Twitter to share the news with his 3,250 followers.

The Newport striker has been playing football for 13 years and says, “People should join the team because it is supportive and it gives people great experiences.” Luke said his most memorable goal was when he scored against Cardiff City to make the score 1-1, he said it was a “great moment” and he was proud because the coaches were happy with him. Luke’s eyes beam with pride when he talks about football and his passion is palpable.

A happy fighter

Welsh government have recently said the “door is open” for the introduction of a law to guarantee the rights of autistic people in Wales. The Newport County supporter has had autism for as long as he can remember and says it mainly gives him bad headaches and makes him very anxious. With a fighting spirit, Luke explained that his autism means he gets “very tired” quickly. “Sometimes I get angry at myself when I have to sit out because I really enjoy playing football and sitting out ruins my confidence. I always want to carry on to make people proud” he said.

If Luke could pick any team in the world to play for, he wants to play for “Newport County”. He was fortunate to captain a game for Newport County Community which aimed to raise money for mental health, something close to Luke’s heart.

A sense of community is very important to him and he does a lot to help; currently, the multitalented 21-year-old volunteers for ‘EnergiZe Radio’ every Sunday, where he talks about sport in the city and other interesting things he is getting up to. After his football days, Luke dreams about becoming a radio presenter.

Luke believes people should get involved with the club, he said, “People will enjoy playing for Newport, it’s a supportive club. It donates to charities which is really good and it also raises money by doing raffles. It is fun.” He adds, “I think people should support the team; if they do it will be great for the club and will get the club to move forward.”

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