Ireland squad head to Amputee World Cup

Having finished 13th at the last WAFF World Cup in Mexico back in 2018, the Boys in Green will be looking to improve on that showing with their aim being to finish in the top ten
Ireland squad head to Amputee World Cup

TURKEY-BOUND: Ireland manager Christy McElligott. File pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

On Wednesday morning, just a few short hours after Stephen Kenny’s side secured their UEFA Nations League B status with a dramatic win over Armenia, an Irish contingent jetted off to Turkey where they will compete in the Amputee World Cup.

Despite enduring a slight delay to their flight from Dublin airport, Ireland’s preparations for the tournament have gone well according to their manager Christy McElligott, who is set to lead his country into their third World Cup.

Having finished 13th at the last WAFF World Cup in Mexico back in 2018, the Boys in Green will be looking to improve on that showing with their aim being to finish in the top ten.

But the squad could have been given a better chance of achieving this objective.

Ireland head to the finals in Istanbul without a team sponsor and it is only because of the pooling of the individual sponsorships that has allowed them to travel to Turkey a few days before the games begin.

“Being in the top 10 would give us a great bit of collateral (if I can say that word) in the sense that when we go knocking on people’s door looking for sponsorship it’s always nice to be able to say we are one of the 10 best teams in the world,” admits McElligott.

“We have been fortunate enough that one of the players, who also sits on the committee, has worked really hard over the last couple of weeks and came up with the idea of seeing if there are companies out there that want to sponsor an individual player or a member of the coaching staff.

“This has helped us dramatically because it has given us the opportunity to get out to Turkey a little bit earlier and have two and a half more days to prepare properly, get used to the heat and have a couple of training sessions.” 

Ireland have been drawn in Group D where they will face Morocco first on Saturday before they then meet Iran on Sunday and Brazil on Monday, with more games to follow accordingly - depending on the nature of the results - before the tournament concludes on the 9th of October.

McElligott remains confident - actually, he is quite adamant - that when the Irish players take to the pitch, they will give absolutely everything they have to be successful for their country in a sport that has given them all another opportunity to do what they love.

“It’s not that we are all amputees but every single one of us has a passion for the sport,” he added.

“The players are fantastic - fantastic individuals and fantastic athletes - and for me, it’s a special bond that we have with each other.

“We want to play football and we want to be successful. We constantly remind each other that we are athletes before we are amputees.

“You may see the fact that we have one leg or one arm but the players themselves class themselves as athletes first before anything else.

“When the lads get together, even when they first meet, they never really talk about what has happened to them.

“It’s generally only when they build up friendships that they gain some knowledge about their past.

“It’s not one of those situations where it becomes a rehab thing where we come in as a group and express how we feel and all this sort of stuff. They’re athletes with goals and targets that they want to achieve.

“I love football, everybody who plays it loves it and this brings me a lot closer to the mainstream game and the feeling you had playing mainstream football.

“I’m very confident that we have put the time and effort in. I’m very confident that the players' ability is there.

“Football is a funny game, sometimes you never get what you deserve out of games but we will give a good account of ourselves.

“We have prepared well, we know the weaknesses of the opposition and we can hopefully affect that.” 

Are you going to put them under pressure?

“Ha ha, we will put them under pressure alright,” concludes McElligott.

Now that they have qualified for the World Cup, there is no doubt they will go and compete, starting Saturday.

*All matches will be streamed live on the Irish Amputee Football Association’s Facebook page and sponsorships are still available by getting in touch via email at irishampfootballassociation@gmail.com or contact 087 649 6711.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

Execution Time: 0.252 s