Football-mad Sunderland lad with rare genetic condition picked to play for Great Britain in Special Olympics

A football-mad Sunderland lad will be gunning for glory in the Special Olympics World Summer Games after he was selected to represent Great Britain.

Monday, 4th March 2019, 2:30 pm
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 2:32 pm
GB Special Olympic footballer Liam Lister visits Fans Museum were he's an ambassador ahead of the games in Abu Dhabi. Museum founder Michael Ganley (L) with volunteer team

Liam Lister, of Hylton Castle, has been picked to play in the tournament which begins later this month in Abu Dhabi.

The 22-year-old, an ambassador with the Fans Museum project on Wearside, has only had a number of training sessions with his team-mates this year, but admits he can’t wait for the big kick-off.

GB Special Olympic footballer Liam Lister visits Fans Museum were he's an ambassador ahead of the games in Abu Dhabi with mother June Lister

The squad, which competes in a seven-a-side format, are due to fly to Dubai this Thursday before heading on to Abu Dhabi where the serious business of competition begins.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I’ve only played for the past four or five years so it’s amazing to get the chance to go and play,” said Liam, a former Portland Academy student.

“It’s the first time I’ll have been abroad but all of the lads get on with each other so we’re really looking forward to it.

“I’m sure we’ll enjoy it and hopefully we can win the tournament.”

GB Special Olympic footballer Liam Lister visits Fans Museum were he's an ambassador ahead of the games in Abu Dhabi

Liam, who also plays for Beamish Dynamos, has KBG syndrome, a condition which affects several body systems including sight, hearing, learning difficulties and more.
Despite his health problems, he has progressed hugely since getting involved with the Fans Museum.

Museum founder Michael Ganley said: “We’re over the moon for Liam.

“He was on a different scheme before he came to us and wasn’t getting a lot of out of it, but now he is excelling.

“His development and social skills have come on loads in the time that he’s been involved with the museum and he’s an important member of the team.

GB Special Olympic footballer Liam Lister visits Fans Museum were he's an ambassador ahead of the games in Abu Dhabi. Club founder Michael Ganley

“He’s the only person from Sunderland in the team, which I think is immense.”

Liam’s mum June, 58, said: “I’m just so proud of him.

“Liam’s played football for the Northern Region before in competitions in Sheffield and Stirling and won both times, but this is something else.

“I’ll be going over with him and it’s going to be a fantastic experience.

“The Fans Museum have been brilliant with him and getting a placement here has been right up his street.

“They are now like a second family to him.”

The Special Olympics World Summer Games runs from March 14 to March 21.