SDSA MEETING 13TH OCTOBER CANCELLED

Message from Sandy Riach Chairman – ” Due to unforeseen circumstances the meeting this week has had to be cancelled. Further information will follow shortly”

EAST OF SCOTLAND AMPUTEE FOOTBALL 21ST AUGUST POSTPONED

Regarding the recent lead story below the session on the 21st August has had to be postponed due to coach availability which is key from a health & safety point of view. Watch this space for new dates.

FOOTBALL COMING HOME FOR EAST OF SCOTLAND AMPUTEES

A Scottish charity that supports amputees has teamed up with Edinburgh Limb Loss Association to bring amputee football to the East of Scotland for the first time. 

On 21 August, amputee charity Finding Your Feet will host its inaugural amputee football open training session at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh and is inviting amputees from across Scotland to attend.

Historically, amputee Scots were required to travel more than 150 miles to play competitive football, but in February this year Finding Your Feet hooked up with SPL team Partick Thistle to pilot amputee football north of the border.  The project has proved so successful that the charity is expanding its programme to introduce the sport in the East.

The charity’s move to the east has come as a response to the growing popularity of the sport which has been embraced by the amputee community since its launch in February, with players traveling from as far afield as Dundee and Dumfries & Galloway for the fortnightly training sessions in Glasgow. What’s more, through its collaboration with the Edinburgh Limb Loss Association, Heart of Midlothian F.C. has indicated that once the pilot has run, they will look to become involved in the same way as Partick Thistle.

The England Amputee Football Association currently works to set up new Amputee Football clubs across England, but until Finding Your Feet stepped in, there was no equivalent body dedicated to the sport in Scotland.

Anyone interested in getting involved in the sport is being encouraged to attend the first training session at the brand new Oriam Sports Performance Centre at Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton on Sunday 21 August at 2.30pm. The aim is for teams to be created at both junior and senior level akin to that in the West before an inaugural Amputee Football Scottish Cup will be hosted, with East versus West, later in the Autumn.  The training session is open to those with either upper or lower limb amputations or limb deficiencies. The project is being backed by the Scottish Football Association.

Corinne Hutton commented: “Finding Your Feet is trying to help amputees back to all sorts of activities and football is very popular in the central belt. The pilot project with Partick Thistle has been a huge success and so taking the sport east is the next natural step to make the sport more accessible to amputees across Scotland.

“We would encourage anyone with a lower or upper limb amputation to join us at Riccarton and we look forward to hosting the first Finding Your Feet Scottish Amputee Football Cup later in the year.”

Keith Ferguson, Secretary of Edinburgh Limb Loss Association, commented: “Having been to the sessions in Glasgow I am really excited about taking part myself and supporting the project to establish a team in the East of Scotland. As well as amputees from Edinburgh and the surrouding areas I hope we can encourage those who live in Fife, North of the Tay and the Lothians to come along.”

Anyone with a lower or upper limb amputation or limb loss is welcome to join in the open training session at Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS on Sunday 21 August 2016 at 2.30 – 4.30pm. All ages welcome.

For more information, please contact Ashley Reid Comms Director Finding Your Feet 07885 262341 ashley@findingyourfeet.net

DAY 4 THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY IN ST ETIENNE

The good was the fabulous help we received on the short train journey between Lyons and St Etienne plus to/from the stadium. A group including the city authority and the St Etienne DSA had organised 4 accessible mini buses to shuttle disabled fans back and forth. At both ends they had people to meet you and offer whatever help you needed. I met Corinne from the DSA who hadn’t seen for nearly 6 years when last in St Etienne. When we arrived back at the railway station there were huge queues however the station staff were on the look out for any wheelchair users and guided us through the crowds straight onto the train.

The bad was the accessible facilities at the stadium which were a disgrace. Wheelchair fans from both countries playing and neutrals would have spent a lot of hard earned money getting to the game and deserved much better. Our entry gate was below the tier where our tickets were for but we had to walk to the other end of the stadium as there was only one lift which meant a long walk back again along the concourse to our seats. It  looked like they had removed a few seats from the back row to create wheelchair spaces  and the view when people stood was non-existent. Incredibly on our tier there were no toilets so a wheelchair user had to trail along to the lift to get to the upper tier or ground level to find a toilet. As for the accessible toilets they were shocking consisting of a sink and a toilet bowl (which when we tried to use was blocked!)

The ugly of course was the flares thrown onto the pitch by a few Croatian fans protesting about a Croatian FA policy. The red shirted volunteer and the Croatian player could have been more seriously injured when one went off near them on the pitch. Croatians fans tried to point out the culprits however the riot police just stood and watched so a fight started. Croatian fans we spoke to were very unhappy with the small group who spoiled things and the police for not doing anything at all.

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DAY 3 LYONS AND IT’S LATE

The update was late as well as it being a late night celebrating with the Northern Ireland fans! The train journey from Marseilles to Lyon was pretty straight forward and we arrived to find our accommodation was a studio flat which was fully accessible. It’s a new stadium in Lyons some distance from the town centre however a direct tram service which is fully accessible runs to the stadium. This time wheelchair users could see if people in front stood up and there were PA seats next to all the spaces.Only problem was the barrier was a little too high for Allan to see properly.

It was a great night for Northern Ireland and we joined their fans for the second half where we met good friends Aubrey Bingham and his wife Kerry.

After the game all disabled fans were well looked after by the stewards and were given priority boarding onto the trams back to the city centre

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DAY 2 MARSEILLES

Thanks to Yoola we are in the Grand Tonic Hotel which is fully accessible. The size of the bedroom for moving a wheelchair around is perfect and the accessible bathroom is state of the art. Great view from the window onto one of the fan zones which is currently mobbed (noon) with Albanian fans.It was a pleasure to mix with the French and Albanians supporters during the day. There was no animosity or trouble just good humoured singing and banter. Buses and the metro are not accessible in Marseilles but the trams are but they don’t run near the stadium so a taxi it was! From the drop off point at the stadium the walk we had to make was ridiculous to our entrance point. Getting into the stadium was easy and the stewards were helpful. Same old story at the viewing area, poor sightlines when people stood, barrier in the way and no adjacent PA seats (apart from Allan’s which Keith  grabbed right away). The atmosphere was electric and even Willie Collum had a decent game. When leaving the stadium we are asked to walk up a very steep slope and down another slope further on when it was clear there were other routes. Keith said “non” and other wheelchair users gathered round while he pressed the point. Pressure told and a locked gate was opened to allow us all out a quicker and flatter route. Next problem was getting a taxi back to the hotel. There was a huge queue however a taxi driver suggested we just go to the front and the steward organising the queue said “oui”. We were in the next one but Keith did the honourable thing and shouted “deux personnes avec moi pour le centre” and a man and his son (St Etienne supporters) understanding Keith’s fluent French jumped in.

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HELLO FROM MARSEILLES DAY 1 REPORT

And what a day it was!! First leg of the journey was Easyjet flight from Edinburgh to Charles De Gaulle which due to industrial action in France was cancelled! This meant we would miss our train connection in Paris to Marseilles and all sorts of problems. We took a gamble and switched to a Spanish Airline but they flew to Orly not Charles De Gaulle. Hiccup at Edinburgh as they could not find the sedan chair to get Allan on to the plane and in Orly more delay, which upset the pilot, as they forgot to bring the lift vehicle to the plane.

Before leaving Edinburgh we telephoned Yoola, an agency based in Paris who arrange accessible travel to see what they could do to help us as they had made all our hotel and train reservations. This is were the owner of the company, Malik Padsi, was brilliant. He arranged for an accessible taxi to meet us at Orly and he also drove to the airport to give the driver new train tickets as by now they had found out another train left Gard de Lyons at 820pm. We arrived at the station at 8pm where Malik was waiting for us to make sure all was ok on a very busy train full of French and Albanian football fans. The station staff were very helpful in getting Allan on to the train and with it being such a rush Malik was only able to book two standard seats in different coaches and not a wheelchair space for Allan. However with his intervention we were given a wheelchair space and a seat in a first class coach! We finally arrived in Marseilles at midnight with a very helpful taxi driver taking us to our hotel and you can see the view from our room in the picture!

OFF THE BALL INCIDENT AT AGM!!

More of a humorous 45 minutes than an incident. The S.D.S.A. AGM was held at Hampden Park on Saturday 28th 2016 with the formal part of the meeting interrupted for a surprise Q & A session with the stars from Off The Ball, Tam Cowan and Stuart Cosgrove. Both guys have actively supported our cause for some time through their radio show and it was great to have them along to Hampden. The picture was taken as Stuart on the right was telling us about the way media works.

Euro16 Prediction League

The owner of the Dunfermline Athletic fans forum has set up a Euro16 Prediction League at http://footballpredictionleagues.com/, with prizes for the winner and runner-up. When you enter you can make an online voluntary donation of £3, and all the proceeds go to the Dunfermline Athletic Disabled Supporters’ Club (DADSC) fund for getting wheelchair access to the 1st Floor at East End Park.

Things Getting Fixed At Livingston F.C.

Good to see Livingston F.C. as a  club sitting down with their trust organisation, their disabled supporters and the S.D.S.A to talk about expansion and improvements to the existing wheelchair user areas in time for the start of their League One campaign.It’s always a challenge when a stadium was built before the current regulations and good practices came into being. However as a team they’ll get it fixed.

This discussion also clarified the organisational set up with regard to supporters in general and their Trust organisation clearly painting the picture that now the right way forward was to launch a DSA which will be called the Livingston Disabled Supporters Club. Marcus Kane has taken on the role of Chairperson with Alex Williams becoming vice-chairman. Both guys have represented their club’s interests for some time and it’s great to see things formalised as of 26th May 2016. There was a good attendance at the meeting and the next step is to gather up potential member data at the same time looking to fill the secretary & treasurer posts.