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Big summer for Scottish football as para-football teams go abroad

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SEVERAL of Scotland’s para-football teams are also preparing for international activity ahead of the nation’s big summer for the sport.

Scotland supporters across the country are counting down the days until Steve Clarke’s side take on Germany in the opening game of UEFA EURO 2024.

This year they are joined by teams like Scotland’s cerebral palsy, amputee, deaf, and powerchair teams that are all currently preparing for their international activity this summer.

Representatives from each of the international para-football squads attended one of the Scotland Men’s National Team’s training sessions recently, where they spoke with Scotland head coach Steve Clarke and members of his squad.

Para football players with Scotland squad
The squads spoke about their respective preparation for their competitions this summer at Lesser Hampden

The Cerebral Palsy squad have already brought silverware back to these shores in 2024, having taken gold in the World Championships earlier this month in Spain.

Following an impressive Nations League campaign in November, the Scottish amputee team secured qualification for the Amputee Football European Championships, which will take place in France from 1-8 June.

The Scottish deaf squad will also travel beyond these shores this summer, as they head to Turkey for the European Deaf Football Championships, to be held from 20 May to 1 June.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Powerchair team is set for a series of Home Nations tournaments taking place throughout the summer. 

The continued development of para-football in Scotland follows the creation of Scottish Para-Football, the world’s first Para-Football Affiliated National Association, which was established by the Scottish FA in 2019.

With an annual investment of £100,000 from the Scottish FA, Scottish Para-Football brings together nine different organisations governing assorted disciplines of Para-Football under one national umbrella.

Ashley Pedersen, chief executive officer of Scottish Para-Football said: ‘‘It was fantastic to see the Men’s A players getting behind players from the representative squads recently. It means a great deal to the players but also says a lot for Scottish football.

“We certainly couldn’t be prouder of what Scotland has achieved in terms of para-football and we will continue to champion the rights of para-footballers for inclusion, equality and access to play the beautiful game.

“We would like to wish Steve Clarke’s team and all our representative squads the best of luck in their forthcoming competitions.”

The organisation, which is an independent Scottish charity, has positioned disability football as a strategic pillar within the governance structure of the national football association.

Scottish Para-Football’s pioneering approach resulted in the organisation winning the highly coveted UEFA Gold Award for best disability initiative in 2022 and the World Football Summit Award for Inclusion in 2023.

As an Affiliated National Association (ANA), Scottish Para-Football is represented on the Scottish FA’s non-professional game board, which provides the organisations with a unified vision and a voice in influencing the Scottish national game.

There are one million people in Scotland who identify as having a disability, of which 100,000 are children.

There are 7,000 para-footballers currently registered with the Scottish FA.

Paul McNeill, Scottish FA head of football development said: “At the Scottish FA, we regularly talk about the power football has to change lives.

“Seeing these squads representing different para-football disciplines succeeding in their international activity is a wonderful example of this.

“We are dedicated to growing para-football across the nation to ensure that football is available for all and the success of these squads and Scottish Para-Football as a whole is testament to the hard work of all those involved.”

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