Paralympic Games will be my finest hour, says head coach of GB’s CP football squad Keith Webb
PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 September 2016
2014 The FA
Keith Webb is ready to embrace the Paralympic experience as he prepares for his greatest moment in the dugout.
The manager of Great Britain’s cerebral palsy (CP) squad – who also bosses England – has been involved in coaching for about 30 years. But he admits nothing will compare to leading his country out in Brazil.
The former Norwich City stalwart and King’s Lynn manager said: “It’s the Paralympics. That’s not lost on me or our players. It will be the proudest moment of my career.
“I’m proud to be head coach of a great squad of players and we’re determined to work hard and enjoy our time in Rio.”
Webb and his squad are not shying away from the challenges that lay ahead in South America.
GB’s CP players begin their quest for a first Paralympic medal since 1984 on Thursday when they lock horns with host nation Brazil – last summer’s world championship bronze medallists. It doesn’t get any easier with that event’s runners-up, Ukraine, up next on Saturday before a closing pool stage clash with Ireland on Monday.
Only the top two teams from each group will have a chance of landing a medal in the eight-country seven-a-side tournament. And GB boss Webb admits his men are going to have to be at their very best if they want to get anywhere near the battle for medals next Friday.
The former Norwich City youth team coach and reserve boss said: “We’re under no illusions. We’re up against two of the best teams in the world in our group stage and for us to be able to have a chance of qualifying we need to probably make sure we win two out of our three games.
“The task is enormous. But I’m quietly confident, and we’re not shouting from the rooftops, that we can push those two teams really hard. In our warm-up games how we have played have exceeded my expectations.”
10 of Webb’s squad play under him for England – who recorded their highest-ever finish (fifth) at their home world championships in 2015. All but two are debutants with Michael Barker and Jonathan Paterson set for their third Games experience.
Ex-King’s Lynn boss Webb, aged 54 and from Thorpe St Andrew, believes their know-how will be valuable as GB prepare to try and turn their hard work in the build up into a memorable success story.
“We’ve used their experience to generate understanding of what the Paralympics is about and what it means to be a part of it,” he added.
“What it will mean to every single person that is representing their country. You can’t buy that sort of experience but we can also use the ignorance, if you like, of those who haven’t played in not getting overawed by it all.
“We’ve been meeting up on a monthly basis since August. No stone has been left unturned. It feels like a club atmosphere and being able to prepare in the way we have has cemented those relationships.”