Bohemian FC today unveiled members of their team who will compete in the FAI’s new amputee league, due to commence on January 20.
Bohemians manager Keith Long, members of the first team, Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha and local representatives were in attendance at Dalymount Park today at the team launch event.
The team will be run by Christy McElligott, a former St Patrick’s Athletic footballer who is now an FAI Football for All Coach.
Christy McElligott (FAI Football For All Community Coach) Amanda King (Bohemian FC Amputee Team) James Conroy (Bohemian FC Amputee Team) and Mícheál Mac Donncha (Lord Mayor of Dublin). Pic: ©INPHO/Gary Carr
McElligott said: “The league is a brainchild that we had last year. We wanted to enable adults and kids who are amputees to be able to play football.
“At the moment, the league will start with three teams but we hope to confirm a fourth before the season starts.
“By the end of the year, we hope to extend it further to six teams. When clubs see the benefits of initiatives like this, we think they will want to come on board.
“They will be impressed by the commitment and quality of the players involved, and by the standard.
“The games will be exciting, the games will be fun, the games will be competitive.”
McElligott lost his leg in a road traffic accident in 2001 and has been involved with the Ireland International Amputee Team set-up for over five years.
He said: “When I lost my leg, I thought football was gone for me forever.
“But amputee football has given me the opportunity to get back involved and playing.
“For your health and wellbeing, football is the best medicine and I encourage amputees to get involved – they will feel the benefits.”
A former Bohs youth player Stefan Balog had a leg amputated after an accident last year and he too will link up with the new team.
McElligott added: “This league gives people like Stefan the ability to do what they loved doing as a kid – play for Bohs. This is what it’s all about.”
Bohemian FC first-team manager Keith Long, a former team-mate of McElligott at St Pat’s, said: “This is the kind of initiative we are extremely proud to support as a club.
“It enriches the ethos of our club and everything we are trying to do both on and off the pitch, through the likes of the Bohemian Foundation.
“I have known Christy a long time and I’m delighted he and his team are going to be a part of the club.”
Bohemian FC President Chris Brien said: “The idea of ‘Football for All’ is something we as a club strongly believe in.
“Beyond the first team, we want people playing for our club at all levels regardless of ability or disability.
“That’s what a club should be about and we’re delighted to be involved with the new league.”