A milestone event in para-sport took place at Hampden Park today, as the world’s first ever Para-Football Affiliated National Association officially launched.
Following an investment last year of £100,000 from the Scottish FA, Scottish Para-Football will bring nine different organisations governing various styles of Para-Football in Scotland under one national umbrella.
The nine organisations with Scottish Para-Football represent a variety of styles of Para-Football, including Amputee Football, Cerebral Palsy Football, Deaf Football, Frame Football, Learning Disability Football, Autism Football, Football Memories, Mental Health Football and Powerchair Football.
As an Affiliated National Association (ANA), Scottish Para-Football will be represented on the Scottish FA’s Non-Professional Game Board, providing the organisations with a unified vision and a voice in influencing the Scottish national game.
There are currently 1,000,000 people in Scotland who identify as having a disability, of which 100,000 are children. There are 7,000 Para-Footballers currently registered with the Scottish FA.
The creation of Scottish Para-Football was a key factor in the Scottish FA becoming the first Football Association in the UK to achieve the Equality Standard for Sport’s Advanced Level accreditation.
Scottish FA President Rod Petrie said: “The launch of Scottish Para-Football is a true landmark for both Scottish football and para-athletes.
“Accepting Scottish Para-Football as an Affiliated National Association demonstrates the Scottish FA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and sends a strong message to UEFA and FIFA and other countries around the world. It provides Scottish Para-Footballers with a voice in our national game and makes the Scottish FA more representative of the demographics within our country.
“The beautiful game is a wonderful sport with far-reaching benefits to individuals, to communities and to our nation. Everyone in Scotland should have the opportunity to reach their potential in the game. Scottish Para-Football brings more opportunity to more people and also brings enjoyment to players, their families and supporters within the umbrella of the whole football family.”
Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing Joe Fitzpatrick said: “It is fantastic to see the Scottish FA leading the way in world football with the launch of the first dedicated national association for para-football.
“This initiative demonstrates a strong commitment to equality and inclusion, ensuring football can be played and enjoyed by all. Everyone should be able to fulfil their potential and this work will ensure our national game is open to all, while giving para-football a voice on the Scottish FA board.”
Robert Craig OBE, Scottish Para-Football Chair, said: “Scottish Para-Football provides a structure which helps the sustainability of its members and gives them encouragement and support to develop and play a full part in the continuing story of Scottish Football.”
Professor Grant Jarvie, Independent Board member of Scottish Para-Football, said: “The Scottish Football Association is to be congratulated on the launch of Scottish Para-Football, which comes on the back of the association recently being awarded the Equality Framework Advanced Level as it strives to remove barriers and tackle inequalities.
“This is ground-breaking for Scottish sport as it is one of the first associations to launch and fund a National Para-Football Association.”