Balance is the key in amputee soccer, for Sheffield players

Amputees Football match, at Sheffield United,s Shirecliffe Training Ground
Amputees Football match, at Sheffield United,s Shirecliffe Training Ground
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These dedicated players do not get paid millions in salaries, attract designer label sponsorship campaigns or have celebrity girlfriends.

But they did train at Sheffield’s Derek Dooley Academy in a north versus south amputee football game - travelling from across the nation to take part.

And some will represent their country in Russia at the sport’s world cup in October.

Steve Adams, academy head coach, refereed the closely-fought game on Sunday and hopes to see disability players from Sheffield get to the same level.

He said: “It’s not Mickey Mouse stuff, the players are so competitive and some of the tackles make you wince.

“I think they’d put a lot of Premier League footballers to shame with their challenges.

“They have to fund themselves mainly, even when they go away to play for the country, and the academy tries to help them as much as possible.”

The game is played as seven-a-side, for 50 minutes, with rolling substitutions as it is so demanding.

Balance is a key focus as people learn to play without the use of a limb.

Left back David Tweedy, 36, who lost a leg in a road traffic accident, is a GB amputee football player.

He said: “It is a really physical game, but it’s also good from a rehabiliation point of view - that’s why it was invented.

“It’s great for people to meet up and be with people who are in the same situation.

“I love it - I wasn’t at a particularly high level when I was an able-bodied person but I love everything about this version of the game.”

Dozens of players with a range of disabilities and special needs train at the academy in Shirecliffe - which was set up to carry on the legacy of city legend Derek Dooley.

Steve, an ex-professional player. said: “We have a nine year old who lost his leg 10 weeks ago and they’re like anybody else, they want to play football.

“They want to play because it’s social, for the same reasons others do.”

But there are some slightly different challenges in the sport. Steve knows two amputee players who often share a pair of trainers to play in as they only need one each.

He said: “They go and buy a pair together. But sometimes they do end up arguing about which pair to buy.”