CHRIS Bright from Redditch is simply mad about football. But the 27-year-old University of Worcester student, who is taking a masters degree in sport, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of eight.

However, he took the view that this was an extra hurdle to jump, rather than a mountain to climb and is now on course to help lift the barriers to others with diabetes to participate in sport. This is Chris’s story in his own words.

By Chris Bright

The story really starts in September 1999 when I was diagnosed with a chronic disease called type 1 diabetes mellitus. You don’t really know how an illness like this can change your life until you’re dealt that hand.

I’d already become hooked on playing football by this time in my life so it was a case of making the condition fit around my lifestyle, rather than allowing it to consume my life. I don’t let it drive the car of my life - I let it sit on the backseat.

Type 1 diabetes is developed as a result of the inability of your pancreas to produce the hormone insulin which transfers glucose from the bloodstream into muscles. Without this hormone, our body’s ability to synthesise glucose into energy is impaired completely.

For those who have the condition, the management consists of a lifetime of insulin administration via injections or pumps, carbohydrate counting and blood glucose level monitoring to try to stay within target parameters.

As a person who’s lived with the condition for 18 years, I’m fully aware of the debilitating impact that it can have on life, so there’s no surprise that type 1 diabetes is classified as a disability by law in the UK.

Following a lifetime of playing football and trying to achieve the very best for myself in the sport, while living with this disability, I wanted to try and support others, share my experience and encourage others to share theirs. This is where the story of the Diabetes Football Community begins.

There aren’t many medical conditions where, by law, the condition you live with classifies you as disabled, yet when it comes to sport you compete with the able bodied mainstream.

For a long time, I’ve felt people with diabetes and others competing in mainstream sport with long term chronic illnesses have been under-represented and have lacked support.

I had very little advice or help with managing my diabetes around football growing up but I feel passionately about changing that and it was a subject I was heavily invested in when I studied my BSc in Sports Studies at the University of Worcester previously. I graduated in 2012.

During my undergraduate degree I didn’t have the idea or maybe the knowhow to make this happen but after a few years away and some more experience playing football and Futsal football the idea for the community came to me.

On leaving the university, I carried on playing football as a semi-professional in the local area, which was always a goal of mine if I couldn’t play professionally. I’d been a county player, had trials with football league clubs and represented the university’s first team previously.

It’s always been a bit sweeter ticking off achievements like this when you’re surrounded by peers who don’t live with a condition like type 1 diabetes.

Following a number of years playing at this level and receiving my first international Futsal caps for Wales in 2016, I felt it was time to tackle the issue I’d always felt was there.

I therefore founded The Diabetes Football Community in February 2017 with our Twitter page and it has grown ever since. The overarching premise is about delivering a peer support community which provides tips, advice, management information and inspiration to people with diabetes, to ensure we maintain and grow participation among this group of people within football.

The community has been developed on social media and we now receive contact from all over the world to our website, Twitter account and Facebook page as we continue to share knowledge and experience with the people that follow us.

Through writing a blog, coaching people through direct messages, sharing stories from others and offering live Facebook Q&A sessions we’ve created an immediate social support network for our followers.

The hard work is only just beginning as we’ve got big plans to develop content, resources and extra support for the community. Our main focus is to continue listening to our followers and ensure we develop tools which benefit the people who interact with us. We’re tackling the barriers to participation which the community highlight.

Awareness, understanding and knowledge of what diabetes looks like, how it plays a part in people’s lives and its dangers in mainstream sport is extremely limited and when you’re the only one in a team, isolation and anxiety can be a real problem.

A harrowing tale I heard, which sticks with me is the story of a child who had a hypoglycaemic attack at school while playing football with his team, which led to him needing assistance following collapsing.

The kids around him laughed, as they didn’t understand the severity or what was happening, which led this child to giving up playing football. No child or adult should have to give up playing football because of their medical condition and this is a mantel I really try to support with through our community.

Our drive, determination and mission is to improve inclusivity for people with diabetes and we aim to do this by raising awareness of our project and the condition. We want to make it the norm that people with diabetes can play football and firmly believe there should be no barriers to participation.

This is the reason I’m back at the university after a five-year break. I want to study my masters around the origins of this community and what makes it such a unique concept, at a university which values, promotes and drives inclusivity in sport. I believe there’s no better place to do that than at the University of Worcester.

I like to refer to this quote when I talk about my experience with type 1 diabetes: “We cannot change the cards we’re dealt, just how we play the hand.” I’ve pushed myself to play the best hand I can in my own sporting career and I want to help coach and support others in playing theirs.

For anyone out there who would like to hear more about the project or would like to contact us please visit, Twitter: @TDFCdiabetes, Facebook: @thediabetesfootballcommunity


According to Diabetes UK, the condition is the fastest-growing health threat facing our nation. Over three million people are living with diabetes in England but if their condition is well managed they can live long, fulfilling lives.

The organisation goes on to say that being physically active and moving more each day not only reduces a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it can also improve sleep, help manage your stress levels and improve mood.

It says activity may affect the blood sugar levels both during and after exercise and recommends people with diabetes should regular check their levels to help them understand how activity is affecting their blood sugar.

For more information about exercising if you have diabetes visit