The team mates who make up London Amps FC have at least two things in common, their passion for football and their perseverance to carry on playing after amputation, some of them with the assistance of their prosthetic limbs.
2,662,900 people in the UK play football so when we watch high performance football it is not anything out of the ordinary however when we imagine amputee sport we let these talented sportsmen slip under the radar, when really they are phenomenal.
On Saturday the 18th March the England Amputee Football Association (EAFA) organised an annual, national, Irwin Mitchell Sponsored football event.
The tournament is hosted at two different team’s venues each year; there are four northern amputee teams and five southern teams. This year the southern teams were welcomed by London Amps; Brighton, Portsmouth, Peterborough and Albion all competed in their north London pitches.
Whilst the northern national teams, including UL Amps (University of Limerick), Thistle Community FC, Man City Amps and Everton Amps, competed at the home of UL Amps.
“I did not expect to see such high standard football, I wasn’t sure what to expect if I’m honest! But, it’s impressive stuff” said Steven McFadyen who spectated at the southern tournament and represented London FA.
Steven has been working as Disability Football Development Officer for London and Middlesex during the past six months and helps to support events such as the English Amputee Football Association’s national tournament.
London Amps are supported by the organisation Arsenal Community which has been using the healing power of football to positively impact footballers lives since 1985.
The association delivers sport, social and education programmes to over 5,000 individuals each week, the scheme is involved with hosting events for both young people and disability football training.
Luke Howard, Arsenal in the community disability officer explains the general rules in amputee football that differ to the ones we know so well in ordinary high performance football.
“The matches are 30 minutes with two 15 minute halves because understandably for players on crutches their arms take on a lot of pressure and become very exhausted after a longer period.” He explains.
All the teams who competed on Saturday have a ranging mix of crutch and prosthetic leg users so I wanted to know if it was difficult to implicate rules in order to even out each team.
Alex Brooker, the Channel 4 comedy panellist, plays for London Amps sporadically in between filming for various shows he is involved with. Brooker has a prosthetic leg and usually the players using a prosthetic are restricted to only two touches however the rules are judged and decided based on their mobility on the pitch so Brooker is allowed three touches.
Another vital rule of amputee football states the goalkeepers for each team must have both legs but only one arm, if a player has a prosthetic arm he has it tucked underneath a bib in order to make the teams equal.
London Amps have a selection of outstanding sportsmen in their team, including a player who has been awarded Afghan Sportsman of the year! Nonetheless the impressive standard of the other national teams result in tensions running high as there’s a lot at stake, the winners of last seasons league and this go head to head for the yearly cup on May 6th.
Football for amputees is often used as therapy both physically and mentally; Shannon Howarth, National Development officer for the EAFA, highlights the many different foo and capabilities able to play because of how inclusive the rules of the game are. “The EAFA want to emphasise that you don’t necessarily have to play on crutches but you can use prosthetic legs too and that the national teams are always pushing for more people to get involved!”
Irwin Mitchell national amputee football tournament scores;
Southern: London Amps 1-0 Albion In The Community
Northern: UL Amps (university of Limerick) 2-0 Thistle Community
Southern: Peterborough Amps 2- 0 Portsmouth/Pompey Amps
Northern: Man City Amps 0-3 Everton Amps
Southern: London Amps 0-2 Peterborough Amps
Northern: Everton Amps 6-1 Thistle Trust
Southern: Albion In The Community 0-2 Portsmouth Amps
Northern: Man City Amps 0-1 Thistle Trust
Southern: London Amps 1-0 Portsmouth Amps
Northern: UL Amps 2-0 Man City Amps
Article written by Jodie Oliver, Sports Journalism Student at Roehampton University.