Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton Constituency is backing the Scottish Powerchair Football Association and Clyde Powerchair Football Club in their call to give more people across Scotland the chance to play powerchair football. Jackie met with representatives of the SPFA who were visiting the Scottish Parliament to promote the growing sport.
Powerchair football is a growing sport in Scotland with teams competing in the Scottish Powerchair Football Association Leagues. Players can either compete by having special bumpers attached to their own wheelchairs or, for more serious competition, they can use specially modified sports powerchairs that are faster and more responsive.
Currently, Scotland has 6 powerchair football clubs with 9 teams, all of which are giving disabled people the chance to take part in exciting competition as well as helping to reduce isolation, improve mental wellbeing and build the self-confidence of players. Played by 4-a-side teams on a pitch roughly the size of a basketball court, the sport is open to powered wheelchair users and is currently the only team sport open to disabled athletes who use a powered chair.
Scotland has its own national league with two divisions and two Cup competitions. In addition, a national powerchair football team, formed from players across the country will be hosting a tri-nations tournament against Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at the sportscotland National Centre in Inverclyde.
The SPFA used the opportunity of a stand outside the debating chamber in Holyrood to bring the sport to the attention of more MSPs. To support the continued growth of the game across Scotland and allow more disabled individuals to take part, the SPFA are asking MSPs to write to Sports Minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP and back their calls for the Scottish Government and sportscotland to provide funding.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“The SPFA is doing great work in giving power wheelchair users in Scotland the opportunity to play football and to participate in a team sport; allowing players to compete locally, nationally and even internationally. Powerchair football allows people to develop skills, discipline and friendships as well as giving players a focus that benefits them both physically and mentally. I have constituents in Dumbarton who enjoy playing the sport and I hope that West Dunbartonshire Council supports local players and provides the funding needed to allow this great game to grow.
“I welcome the decision by the Scottish Government to require Changing Places toilet facilities in all new build Sport Centres. However, many existing sports facilities across Scotland are not accessible to Powerchair footballers. By improving disabled facilities and supporting the work of the SPFA, the Scottish Government has the chance to make a real difference to Scottish Para footballers.
“I have written to Joe FitzPatrick MSP, the Minister for Sport, and asked him to consider greater funding and support for powerchair football and other sports aimed at disabled individuals in my constituency and across Scotland.”