May 18, 2017
Dundee United is to become the first club in the East of Scotland to embrace amputee football when the Club hosts an open training session this weekend, inviting anyone with an amputation or congenital limb difference to get involved with the sport.
Awareness around amputee football has rocketed in Scotland since one-legged man and die-hard Dundee United fan Tommy McKay (32) scored a wonder goal in the McEwan Fraser Legal #HomeAdvantage Challenge against Dunfermline at Tannadice in November. The amazing clip was viewed by more than TWO MILLION people on social media, with the man of the moment Tommy receiving worldwide attention and an enviable fan base.
Tommy, who lost his leg at nine years old to bone cancer, subsequently scooped the highly coveted SPFL Goal of the Month award, presented to him by Dundee United gaffer Ray McKinnon, and was invited to enjoy a training session with the first team at Tannadice.
Tommy’s super strike put the plight of new charity, Amputee Football Association Scotland (AFAS), into the limelight, an organisation for which Tommy has since become an invaluable ambassador. And now the charity has hooked up with Dundee United Community Trust in the hope of forming a team in the East.
There is currently only one amputee football team in Scotland, namely Partick Thistle Amputees in Glasgow, where Tommy currently trains. The team was set up by AFAS, a charity launched in October 2016, to develop the sport north of the Border. While provision is made for disability football of varying disciplines by the Scottish Football Association (SFA), amputee football had not previously existed in Scotland. However, AFAS has seen a surge in demand for the sport and there is now a well-established junior and senior squad in the west enjoying fortnightly training sessions with Partick Thistle Community Trust.
Partick Thistle Amputees currently compete in the England Amputee Football League, alongside amputee teams from clubs including Manchester City, Arsenal, Brighton, Portsmouth, Peterborough and Everton. But with plans to launch in the east with Dundee United, before taking the sport north, AFAS aims to create Scotland’s own amputee football league akin to that south of the border.
AFAS, which is endorsed by the Scottish Football Association (SFA), has enjoyed the backing of former Dundee United players and Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill MBE and Jags boss Alan Archibald, both of whom have championed the work of the charity in recent months. Edinburgh based O’Neill visited Partick Thistle Amputees as guest coach last year and has championed the growth of the sport in Scotland. More so, Hearts owner Anne Budge recently gave the charity her backing to launch in the Scottish capital and training sessions will soon commence at Tynecastle.
AFAS is currently appealing for support so it can send a Scottish squad to the Netherlands in June to make its European debut. Due to face international amputee teams from Germany and The Netherlands in a tri-nation tournament in the city of Breda, the Netherlands, on 25 June, this will be the first-time Scotland has been represented on the European stage in amputee football.
Gordon Grady, Community Manager at Dundee United Community Trust, commented:
“We’re excited to be supporting Amputee Football Association Scotland in helping raise awareness of the sport in the East of Scotland. When Tommy scored his wonder goal at Tannadice, it put the spotlight on disability football, something we are hugely passionate about at Dundee United Community Trust. We would encourage anyone with an amputation or limb difference to come along on Sunday and give it a try.”
Ashley Reid, executive director of Amputee Football Association Scotland, commented:
“Amputee football is a new discipline in Scotland so to see our player numbers grow so rapidly in such a short time is testament to the demand that exists for the sport. It was a natural next step to take the sport East and we already have a strong relationship with Dundee United Community Trust.
“Many of the players have missed out on opportunities throughout their lives due to lack of confidence or activities that cater to their needs. Our aim is to provide the opportunity for anyone with an amputation or limb difference to play football on a level playing field in a fun and safe environment.
“We are appealing for more players to come forward to try the sport, and who better than Tommy McKay to help us launch the sport at his home club.”
Anyone with an upper or lower amputation or limb difference is invited to attend the taster session on Sunday 21 May from 2-4pm at Dundee United’s GA Arena.