A WINSFORD dad who devotes his life to nurturing young footballers has been shortlisted for a prestigious accolade.

Tony Mitchell is a finalist in the Cheshire & Warrington Everyday Superhero Awards 2019 in the category of community sport.

The awards celebrate the achievements of people who help and inspire their community to develop regular active lifestyle habits.

Tony, 43, has officiated, managed and coached more than 800 players since he was 15, won countless awards and held various positions.

With drive and determination, he led teams at Winsford Youth Centre, Colts, Athletic, United, Diamonds, Over 3, Woodford and Davenham.

His latest team Winsford Community Disabled Football Club has given young players with a range of disabilities the chance to achieve goals on the pitch they never dreamed possible.

Winsford Guardian:

Winsford Community Disabled Football Club has helped players to achieve goals they never dreamed possible

Tony said: "I'm overjoyed to be nominated for this award but at the end of the day it's the kids who make it all possible.

"If I win the award the first thing I will do is dedicate it to all the kids and everyone who has been involved with me."

Dad-of-two Tony had to give up work after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when he was only 37.

Yet he has never let his disability be a handicap.

"I use football and the support I get from the football family to help me fight against the illness I've got, " said Tony, who used to work in factories and warehouses.

"My son Patrick is disabled and football mad. I think that kids born with a disability should be included and given a chance. Our disabled football club is the best thing I've ever done in football.

"We, as a club, value and respect each individual. It isn't just myself, a huge amount of special people have been involved along the way."

Around 32 boys and girls of all ages and disabilities train every Sunday.

Winsford mum Rebecca Goodier, whose 11-year-old son Jamie, who has Down Syndrome and plays for the team, said: "I nominated Tony as he has spent a lot of his life dedicating time to different football teams, the newest being the Winsford Community Disabled Football Group which has been going for over a year now. 

"Tony has daily battles with his own health but he never lets that get in the way of making these disabled children happy in the Sunday football sessions. 

"He is so positive about life and is always telling the children how brilliant they are getting them to say every week 'we are fantastic'.

"All the parents have said how great the group is and how thankful they are to Tony for creating it as there is nothing else like it around."

His close friend and football coach Andy Ford said: “The whole reason I started with the WCDFG was because the effort and years of hard work Tony has put into grassroots football for other people’s children has been phenomenal yet he has never coached or seen his own child play football due to his son Paddy’s disability. 

"Tony and his family needed the WCDFG in their lives and what a success.

"Tony had tears in his eyes the first time he saw Paddy run onto the pitch. He still wells up now when Paddy scores a goal and celebrates with everyone."

Winners of the awards will be announced at a ceremony at Chester Racecourse on September 25.