Fife venue set to host first ever Amputee Football Nations League

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A Fife Paralympian is bringing the inaugural Amputee Football Nations League competition to the Kingdom later this year - the biggest international para-football tournament of its kind to take place in Scotland.

Group D of the competition will see Scotland take on four different nations at Dalgety Bay Sport and Leisure Centre in October.

Fife was an obvious choice for the host destination, not only for its exceptional sports facilities, but because it’s the home of Scotland national amputee player, Iain Matthew who comes from Glenrothes. The 47-year old is both a player and director of the host charity, Scotland Amputee Football Association (AFAS).

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It was set up in 2017 to create opportunities for those with limb loss to participate in the beautiful game. The organisation is now a game leader of Scottish para-football, the Scottish FA’s governing body for all forms of para-football in Scotland. The Nations League is organised by the European Amputee Football Federation of which AFAS is a member.

Iain Matthew,  a player and director of the host charity, Scotland Amputee Football Association (Pic: Submitted)Iain Matthew,  a player and director of the host charity, Scotland Amputee Football Association (Pic: Submitted)
Iain Matthew, a player and director of the host charity, Scotland Amputee Football Association (Pic: Submitted)

And Iain hopes the competition will spark the interest of football fans to come and see the skills of the players, and give their support.

He said: “When the players are on the pitch, disabilities are secondary. It’s simply about individuals coming together to play competitive football at a high level. Representing your country is something many can only dream about, and the honour is not lost on this team.”

Eighteen teams will play in the inaugural Amputee Football Nations League, with teams split into four divisions. Each division will enjoy a tournament in a different location on a different date. Scotland is a host nation, along with Poland, France, and Belgium. The team in last place in each group will be relegated to the lower division, with the best team being promoted to the higher division.

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The Scottish squad, made up of 11 individuals each with a lower or upper limb amputation, will face their international counterparts on Octobe 28-29. The tournament will see 10 matches played across two days in an exhilarating tournament that will bring multiple amputee football nations together in the inaugural competition.

Leigh Gregory in action for Scotland in a game against Belgium (Pic: Submitted)Leigh Gregory in action for Scotland in a game against Belgium (Pic: Submitted)
Leigh Gregory in action for Scotland in a game against Belgium (Pic: Submitted)

Added Iain: “From running a pilot project with a handful of players in 2017 to fronting a Scotland squad for an international tournament signals the growth and appetite for this sport in Scotland.”

Amputee football is unexpectedly fast paced, dynamic and physically gruelling on the upper body. It is well established across the world, with leagues operating in more than 30 countries worldwide.

The Amputee Football World Cup took place in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2022, where hosts Turkey triumphed over former champions Angola in a 4-1 defeat. The Scotland squad currently plays in the Irish Amputee Football league. The game is played on crutches with teams of seven-a-side. Those in goals must have an upper limb amputation while those outfield a lower amputation.

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Iain has been instrumental in bringing the major tournament to Fife, but his own sporting career dates back further than its inception. He shone as a young member of Team Scotland swimming team at the World Youth Games in Miami in 1989, was selected for Team GB relay teams for the European Championships in Barcelona in ‘91, and the GBn medley relay team at the Paralympic Games in Barcelona in 1992.

An unexpected qualifier for the 100 metres breaststroke final, Iain left his opponents trailing to scoop the gold medal and set many world records. He continued to represent GB during the 90s, winning gold and silver medals in the World and European championships and competing in his second Paralympic Games in Atlanta where he won a silver medal. Iain is also one of the very few Scots to compete at the Commonwealth Games in the Elite Athletes with a Disability (EAD) events.With his focus now on amputee football, Iain hopes Fifers will show their support on the touchline, and also financially - it is anticipated that hosting the tournament will cost AFAS around £35,000, and the organisation is appealing for sponsorship and financial backing to help the games which will be live streamed.

Added Iain: “I owe a lot to the people of Fife for supporting me during my paralympic career and there’s nowhere I’d rather see host this tournament. The scenery will showcase Scotland at its finest for our overseas visitors and I hope that local people will come and cheer on Scotland.”

The competition’s arrival in Fife is fitting given the region’s long-standing support for disability and sport.

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Ashley Reid, chief executive of Scottish Para-Football and founder of Amputee Football Association Scotland, said: “It is a huge honour for Scotland to be hosting such a prestigious tournament and testament to the work of the players and volunteers.

“It’s an honour to be hosting this tournament in Fife, where Iain’s career began, and where there are such exceptional sporting facilities. AFAS is a modest charity run by a handful of volunteers so we’re appealing to the public and local businesses to get behind us and make this event something truly memorable.”

The competition features four groups. Group A, hosted by Poland, was stage din June and featured England, who finished top of the mini league, along with Turkey and Spain. In September, Group B takes place in France with Germany, Italy and Ireland; and Group C is in Belgium with Greece, Ukraine and Georgia.

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