• Phil Packer

Paralympian, England and GB Cerebral Palsy Football Captain, Matt Dimbylow, joins the BRIT family

We are delighted that Matt has joined our BRIT Ambassador family.

Matt represented Great Britain in the seven-a-side Cerebral Palsy Football Team at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China where he won bronze, and then at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, where he won silver. Matt also captained the England Cerebral Palsy Football team.

Matt Dimbylow - Paralympian, England and GB Cerebral Palsy Football Captain

“Having been involved with football as a player and in administrative roles, and within the charity and sport sectors, for over thirty years, I have spent a great deal of time with young adults and am aware of the increase in mental health challenges faced by so many students and young players. While there has been an improvement in football players speaking about mental health, there is still a long way to go to; it is great to see so many elite athletes uniting as BRIT Ambassadors to have a UK-wide impact on improving young adult and student mental health.

The BRIT 2021 Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for every UK university, college and students’ union to enter teams and encourage their students and staff to take part in the challenge; at home or on campus. BRIT have designed an annual challenge that is inclusive and enables students and staff of all abilities to take part; by hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding). This is such a great way for students and young adults to be involved in a team feel-good fundraiser that can improve mental health and fitness.

Ensuring that young adults and students receive support when they need it is vital; particularly with COVID-19 compounding existing mental health challenges. Collaboration between support services, organisations and charities will help avoid students and young adults struggling with long-term mental health difficulties; It is great to see that BRIT has partnered with PAPYRUS – Prevention of Young Suicide, Nightline Association, Student Minds and the Charlie Waller Trust, so that all donations raised by the BRIT 2021 Challenge will be shared equally between five mental health charities who support students and young adults.

BRIT are providing inspiration and encouragement to students and young adults through their BRIT Ambassador family; Olympians, Paralympians, sports personalities, adventurers and explorers are uniting to support and improve young adult mental health. I urge our England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales Football players to join our BRIT Ambassador family so young adults and students at every university and college are inspired to take part in the BRIT 2021 Challenge.

I look forward to encouraging students and staff at the University of Liverpool to take on the BRIT 2021 Challenge and supporting their teams as they complete their 2,021 mile targets.”

Matt Dimbylow - Double Paralympic Games medallist

Matt studied for a Bachelor of Science degree in Movement Science and Physical Education at the University of Liverpool between 1989 and 1992. He then went on to study for a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Liverpool between 1994 and 1995.

As a bright young prospect, he played for the English Universities in the early 1990s, before embarking on a successful semi-professional career with clubs including Kidderminster Harriers and Bromsgrove.

Everything changed for Matt in 2003, when he suffered a head injury whilst playing in a football match. He was later diagnosed with extra pyramidal syndrome; a condition with similar symptoms to Parkinson's disease which affects the parts of the brain that control movement and speech.

As Matt came to terms with the condition, he learned that he may have the chance to take part in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

He tried out for the seven-a-side team, for athletes with impairments commonly associated with cerebral palsy. Matt went on to compete for Great Britain in Beijing and took part in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He was also part of the British team that took medals at successive Paralympic World Cups – bronze in 2010 and silver in 2012. Matt also captained the England and GB Cerebral Palsy Team.

In 2014, Matt was chosen by The Football Association (FA) to be inducted to the National Football Museum Hall Of Fame 'Football For All' category. He received his award from fellow Hall Of Fame member David Clarke, at a ceremony which also saw Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and Patrick Vieira amongst the inductees.

Since 2012, Matt has been Chief Executive of DBA Sport CIC and in 2020, founded Race to the Moon. In 2021, Matt was appointed Non-Executive Director of Cheshire Football Club.