Post date: 
Tuesday, 27 March 2018
Lady Footballer

Connect member Laura Cartmill shares her story of how joining a ladies football team gave her the confidence to take on the challenge of a fundraising event for the RNIB.

My name is Laura Cartmill, I am 27 years old and I am planning to fundraise for the RNIB by travelling 5 miles a day for 200 days, combining walking, running and cycling, covering a total distance of 1000 miles. The challenge starts on the 30th July 2018 through to the 15th February 2019. I am doing this because the RNIB supports people when they lose their sight and they feel like they are on their own, however with the help and support of the RNIB they can rebuild their confidence.

I am visual impaired myself, I was born with an eye condition called ‘Aniridia’ (an absence of the iris, and an enlarged pupil) which means the eyes cannot shut out the light. My eyes get very sore, especially during the summer. I wear dark glasses and these help with the sensitivity. I take two types of eye-drops daily to keep the eye pressure to a minimum,

I also have autism. Having this condition affects a lot of things in my life. Meeting new people, communicating and socialising can be difficult for me and, at times, I struggle with being in big crowds and loud noise environments. The severity of my conditions differs from day to day, and I must live one day at a time. Having these conditions makes life hard for me, but there is always a way around it, although it can be frustrating, I always try and remain as positive as possible.

Six years ago I joined a football team, Torquay United Inspirations, for people with varied disabilities. They meet on a Saturday morning and have tournaments on a Sunday against other teams with disabled players. Since joining this team, my confidence has been built up tremendously, because these individuals understand me and I feel that I can communicate and socialise better in their company. Before joining football, I didn’t talk to anybody; now, I have more confidence, and I even help my football coach to train the team (we were branded the ‘Dream Team’).

Although I train with Torquay United Inspirations, they don’t have a ladies team, so I now play for Tavistock Special Ladies who, kindly, let me play for them at the tournaments. I also attend a football session on a Thursday night, which again has really helped me, as it is the same coaches and they have a good understanding of everyone.

At first I thought I might struggle with having a visual impairment, but with the help of the coaching staff, my confidence has grown and is now really high. For this reason I am now fundraising for the RNIB, hopefully being able to help other people to have that confidence too.

I am also planning to do another challenge for RNIB after this one. I aim to do 5.000 miles, on a bike, in 500 days, travelling 10 miles a day. That challenge will start 1st August 2020, through to 14th December 2021.

Further information

Visit Laura's fundraising page for RNIB.

Interested in taking on a challenge of your own? Check out the incredible events RNIB has to offer