By Tony Dewhurst

Just sitting with Iain Dowie, talking and drinking tea from a paper cup at a bare canteen table, rekindles the old deep enthusiasm for the game.

The former Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace Manager blows out his cheeks after a hectic few minutes wrestling with the controls of a power wheelchair in The Football League Trust coaching arena at the brmb Grass Roots Football Show.

"That's one of the hardest things I've ever done, controlling one of those chairs," said Dowie

"People talk about the pressure of management, the intensity of that job, then I come here and see these amazing people, overcoming a disability through sheer guts and determination, it is amazing to see.

"I was talking to a lad called Anthony during the game, and it wasn't easy for him to communicate.

"But he finds a way to do it with a beaming smile and it enthuses you.

"Again all the odds, Anthony has gone out and done his Level 2 coaching badge.

"I like to think I'm an enthusiastic coach, but he was more enthusiastic than anybody I've met.

"He is wheelchair-bound, has got great difficulties in his life, yet he doesn't feel sorry for himself - and now he is going to coach a wheelchair team.

"There is a great deal of good done by football in the world - it can be an all-embracing sport - and events like this illustrate that.

"We can take football for granted, but blind football, the power chairs, these kids are overcoming a severe disability and we can all learn something from that."

The three-day Grass Roots event saw fans entertained by coaching sessions, demonstrations, and displays with special guests including Dowie, Robbie Savage, Dion Dublin, Peter Taylor and Chris Hughton.

For the second consecutive year, The Football League Trust chose to give their arena over to their Every Player Counts disability programme, and showcase the fantastic work carried out in this field by 44 Football League community schemes.

Dowie, who made 59 appearances for Northern Ireland, added: "What football can bring to life is a great deal of joy, but you come to Grass Roots and it brings you back to reality and makes you think that this is what football is all about."

"A lot of the focus is on the Premier League, but sometimes we should look sideways and see what is going on elsewhere in the game.

"We must try and embrace other areas, and it so crucial that we continue to invest in mental health issues, wheelchair and blind football.

"It is very important that we don't forget the less well off than ourselves."

Football League Trust spokesman Mike Evans said, "Today has been an opportunity for a hundred of our disability players, from the 10,000 involved in the Every Player Counts programme, to come and play on a huge stage in front of a large crowd, and it is a highlight of their season.

"Iain's enthusiasm and interest means everything to the players, and we thank him again for helping make sure that Every Player Counts!"