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Added on: 5th April, 2012 by Gareth_2751
Over 80 amputees from four European teams converged on Leigh Sports Village last weekend for the inaugural Four Nations Amputee Football Tournament.
The event proved to be a huge success, showcasing amputee football and highlighting disability sport in the Paralympic year. The England Amputee Football Association, who hosted the event, is responsible for delivering amputee football from grassroots level to the GB National Team, including both the development & veterans squads on this occasion.
Since 2009, EAFAʼs Football Development Officer, Dave Tweed, has been widening his role to offer his support to German, Irish and Polish colleagues enabling them to start projects and grow the game in Europe.
Speaking on the tournament, Dave said, “To see these teams come together and play this weekend is the culmination of lots of hard work over the past couple of years, and to be able to host it in my back yard is just fantastic. Also by involving and developing amputee football in more countries we hope to strengthen our case for Paralympic inclusion”.
Playing international football for the first time, the tournament provided valuable experience for the visiting teams who were delighted with the facilities and tournament. Ireland Amputee FA coordinator, Simon Baker, said, “For us, this tournament gave us a great insight into competitive amputee football and the next level at which we should be aiming as a squad. For the guys to experience such a well run event at a fabulous venue even for a just a weekend, you can see in their body language that they want to kick on and improve”.
It wasn’t just the players who were impressed, spectators were also amazed by the tournament and not only because they saw a Great Britain team on fire and beating a German team! Comments in the crowd ranged from “The games were far more intense that I ever expected” to “I was on crutches once and could barely move. How can you kick a ball?” The best reaction however was from the junior players from local clubs Leigh Genesis & Leigh East standing open mouthed and amazed at the limbless spectacle before them.
Dave, who volunteers his time to the EAFA charity that is usually funded by donations, was able to host this event thanks to the generous support of Leigh Sports Village and Wigan Council Cultural Partnership who approved a Cultural Olympiad grant application from the charity, allowing the sport to be demonstrated in the Borough.
“Without the practical help from the team at Leigh Sports Village and the financial support from Wigan Cultural partnership, there is no way we could ever afford to bring an event like this to Leigh. We struggle as it is to do our development work and send the national team to World Cups, so I’m really grateful to all those who have shown their generosity and helped us to put on this great event. My hope is that it has motivated at least one person in the community who thought that sport wasn’t an option for them, for whatever reason, to have a go”.