First ever amputee football team launched in Islington
A new amputee football team has scored a goal for disabled opportunities in Islington.
The London Amps are the borough’s first ever amputee squad and now train every Friday at Whittington Park, off Holloway Road, Upper Holloway.
The club is made up of single and double leg amputees, as well as two-legged one-armed goalkeepers, and players are allowed to use prosthetics, despite them being banned in internationally recognised amputee football.
It is the only team in London to be affiliated to the England Amputee Football Association (EAFA),
Organiser James Catchpole, 31, who lost his leg to a rare disease at birth, said: “Until recently you would’ve had to go to Manchester or Liverpool to play this game.
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“I’ve been commuting down from Oxford to run the Friday sessions and when it comes to the amputee football, seeing really is believing.”
Michael MacNeill, football development manager at Aquaterra, which runs Whittington Park, said that the team is offering a community sport that makes a difference.
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“It’s been great to be able to offer them training space,” he said. “It’s like any other grassroots hobby, and since the London Olympics and Paralympics there has been a massive upsurge in interest.”
However, many players and fans of the sport are angry that the game is not officially recognised by the Paralympics committee and has already been ruled out for the 2016 Games in Rio.
Mr Catchpole said: “We should really have Paralympic status by now. In play, amputee football looks fantastic, bizarre and effective. The potential for greater media coverage is out there.”
The London Amps played their first competitive match on Sunday, in the Middlesex County League.
They were up against able-bodied men with learning disabilities, a challenge that Mr Catchpole insisted they would overcome with practice.
They lost the match and player Michael Ishiguzo called it a baptism of fire, but said there was plenty of room for improvement.
The 33-year-old from Nigeria lost his leg to gangrene after he was badly tackled playing football.
He said: “Yes, this game is challenging, but it’s about having respect for yourself. Even if you’re new to it, you’ll never know unless you try.”
n The London Amps are still looking for players. For more information, email James Catchpole at firstname.lastname@example.org