Powerchair soccer a hit with disabled Scots sportsmen and women

Connor Colhoun with Willie Pettigrew, chair of Scottish Powerchair football. Photograph: Robert Perry
Connor Colhoun with Willie Pettigrew, chair of Scottish Powerchair football. Photograph: Robert Perry
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The Scottish Powerchair Football team made up of disabled players took part in their first international match against English opposition yesterday.

The game which involves male and female players on the same side is the UK’s fastest growing disability sport with 1,100 participants and gives people with high levels of physical impairment the opportunity to compete in a team.

There are 62 players registered to play with the Scottish Powerchair Football Association (SPFA) and 13 players were selected to represent the country in a match against Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club at Inverclyde National Sport Training Centre in Largs yesterday.

More than half of the players have a muscle wasting condition and Muscular Dystrophy UK has partnered with the SPFA to sponsor the premiership and championship in Scotland.

Connor Colhoun from Paisley, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and plays for Glasgow Gladiators, was among those selected to take part.

The 21-year-old said: “I was at the first-ever training session for the sport in Scotland. It was tricky to learn at first, but we really came on once we had the correct power chairs.

“I love every minute of it and have worked really hard to be picked for this first international game.

“I hope to win as many caps as possible – it’s a dream to play for your nation.”

Connor met his fiancée through playing. “We were in the same team and just got to know one another. It has changed my life in a fantastic way,” he said.

The game is a four versus four format of football, played indoors on a standard sized basketball court.

Using a powerchair with a bumper on the front, players dribble, pass and shoot a 33cm football into the opponents’goal. A match consists of two 20-minute periods with rolling substitutions allowed throughout.

Rob Burley, director of campaigns, Care and Support for Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “Powerchair football has a huge impact on the quality of the lives of many people we work with. Conditions like muscular dystrophy can make it hard to take part in sport, but Powerchair football ensures that people in wheelchairs can compete.”

Chairperson of the Scottish Powerchair Football Association Willie Pettigrew said: “This is an exciting step for Powerchair football in Scotland. To give players who only a few years ago never thought they would be able to play football the chance to represent their country is phenomenal.

“The support from the SFA Para Football Association, Mobility Central Sport and MDUK has been invaluable.”

Scotland lost the match 7-1.