As they head towards their second anniversary, Carlisle Reivers Football Club’s pan-disability section appears to be going from strength to strength.

After recently setting up a fourth adults male team, the club now has seven pan-disability sides in total. At youth level, they have an Under-16s team and an Under-12s outfit, while their senior Ladies side have booked their place at the FA People’s Cup final later this month.

“We haven’t got many down tonight, just with it being the school holidays,” explains founder Paul Allen as he leads last Thursday’s training session which took place on the playing fields, opposite Carlisle Youth Zone.

"But I don’t want to cancel training - even if there are only two who want to come down and train, then I’ll put training on for them.

"In terms of growth of the club, May 4 two years ago, we first set-up and, at the time, there was just Josh [Paul’s son who has cerebral palsy] and another little lad from Aspatria who came along.

"Now, I’ve just made a fourth adults male team, so we have four adult male teams, a women’s team that is in development, an Under-12s team that is in development and a full Under-16s team.”

Allen continues: “It hasn’t been hard to raise awareness of what we do, a lot of it is word-of-mouth and through social media.

"Quite often, we get new players coming down. We did get some more who were coming from outside of Carlisle, as well, but now other clubs are setting up their own teams.

"So rather than me keeping them, I’m kind of signposting where there nearest club is.

"If they live in the Penrith area, Penrith has one set-up [Eden Mencap], as well. It’s a lot easier for them to get there for an hour or an hour and a half ’s worth of training than it is to travel up here.

"But if they are happy to come through, I’m more than happy for them to come here and train if that’s what they want to do. I’ll always make space for anyone."

Last month, Carlisle Reivers had four pan-disability teams competing in the regional semi-finals, with the Ladies’ side given a bye to the final.

That means they will be involved in the finals which will be held at St George’s Park, the home of England’s football teams, on the weekend of April 27 and April 28. Allen admits he is thrilled the club will be represented at the Burton-Upon-Trent venue - but he is devastated that he won’t be able to give the team his support.

He says: “It’s absolutely fantastic. We entered four teams in and all of them made it through to the semi-finals, and the women’s side are through to the final.

“Unfortunately, I can’t take them which I’m gutted about! I’ve got major surgery on April 24 so I will be in hospital but own chairwoman, Amy Hickson, is going to take them down, so it will be well covered.

"I’ll be on my phone all the time to keep up to date.”

But despite the success Carlisle Reivers’ sides have enjoyed since the club was first formed, winning is not a primary focus for Allen.

“I have always said, it’s not about the glory, it’s about the opportunities for them,” Allen explains. “We enter tournaments, sometimes we win them, sometimes we don’t. I tell them I don’t care about what the end result is if they have fun and try hard. That’s all I ask of them.

“If they have come off the pitch and have been absolutely thrashed but they say they have tried their best, then I’m happy with that.

“They have been successful, both with the youth and the adult teams winning plenty of trophies, but that’s a secondary thing for me.”

With other teams being formed in Cumbria, and giving sportspeople with a wide-range of disabilities the chance to play football, Allen hopes to be able to organise more locally-based games in the future.

“With the Under-16s, we have had two years of not playing anyone locally,” Allen explains. “As I say, we set-up on May 4, and it was the following March when they had their first game, that was in the People’s Cup.

“We went to the People’s Cup in Carlisle but there were no teams entered for their category. So, the first game was in Manchester.

“Then, last year, we entered a couple of tournaments but we had to go to the North-east and down to Bradford.

“I’m hoping, with other clubs starting up, that we will get some local games in now, rather than just having to travel two or three hours somewhere.

"We don’t get to play matches as much as we would like."

Allen adds: "As well as the exercise side of it with training, we also like to work on the social side of it, as well.

"If someone moves from one age-group up to the next, I won’t stop them coming to train with the age-group that they have been in because they probably have made friends there."