Talented player wins footballer of the year title
A FOOTBALLER from Kingswood has been named the Football Association's Disability Player of the Year.
Ibrahima Diallo, 20, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in December 2011, competed in last summer's Paralympics in London.
He received his award from Paralympian Sarah Storey at the inaugural FA England awards ceremony at St George's Park in Staffordshire.
On receiving the award, Ibrahima, who is nicknamed Ibz, said: "This award means a lot. The evening was amazing – I'm still surprised I won. It is a great honour and one that I am truly thankful for.
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"Being in a room with such great footballers, past and present, and receiving congratulations from them, was absolutely amazing."
Ibrahima was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after a conversation with South Gloucestershire and Stroud College's director of sports academies Simon Panes, who, along with the physiotherapist for the Great Britain Cerebral Palsy team, noticed his unusual running style during a training session.
He had previously attributed his problems when running to tight muscles in his thigh.
The Guinean-born footballer was quickly selected to compete at Paralympics, where the GB team finished seventh overall.
Ibrahima, who studies IT at the University of the West of England, still trains and plays for the Bristol Academy Football Club at his former college.
Of Bristol Academy, he said: "Simon has offered amazing support over the years and continues to do so, as do all the coaching staff. I'm very grateful for their support."
Discussing his next steps, he said: "I'm now looking for tryouts at semi professional and professional clubs. I want to continue to compete at a high level so my options are wide open."
Mr Panes, a National England Colleges FA coach, said: "We are very proud of Ibz and his achievements so far. It has been an incredible time for him and I have been so impressed in how he has coped with this big change in his life. He has such an exciting time ahead of him and we will continue to support him in any way we can."