Two football teams will represent Britain at this summer’s Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Two football teams will travel to Beijing to represent Britain at this summer’s Paralympic Games in Beijing. ParalympicsGB has today confirmed the British athletes to compete in the five-a-side and seven-a-side football.
Britain will be represented in the five-a-side blind football for the first time by a 10-man squad. Britain’s five-a-side team earned its place at the Beijing Paralympics through the IBSA European Championships in Greece in September 2007 where the England team won silver.
The British team will be captained in China by 27-year-old Ajmal Ahmed, who is originally from Liverpool but now lives in Worcester. With four world championships and six European championships under his belt, Britain’s most experienced squad member is 37-year-old David Clarke, who will celebrate his birthday during the Paralympics this summer.
Dave represented Britain at the Paralympics in 1996 as part of the goalball team and his first game in Beijing will mark his 100th international football cap.
Clarke said: “I am absolutely elated to be representing Great Britain at the Beijing Paralympics. I have been working toward this moment for the last 14 years and to now know that I have made it is really special.
“We are immensely grateful to the likes of the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford and The FA for the financial and personnel commitments they have made to positively impact our training schedule. It's really inspiring to know that when we step out on to the pitch to play China on 7September we will be doing so with our best prepared and strongest squad of players ever.”
Meanwhile the 12-man squad for the seven-a-side Cerebral Palsy competition has also been named today. Britain earned their place at the Beijing Games, through the performance of England at the CPISRA Seven-a-Side Football World Championships in Brazil, where the team finished seventh to clinch the final Paralympic place for Britain.
Matthew Dimblylow said: “For me personally to be selected to go to the Paralympics is a high accolade so this is a dream come true. For the team overall we realistically think we can achieve a podium finish but then it may come down to the luck of the draw.”
Jeff Davis National Football Development Manager for Disability at the Football Association (FA) said: "Both squads have a massive challenge ahead. Great Britain Football has not competed in the Games for some time and has little experience, however I am confident they are well prepared and will be able to perform at the highest level."
The football events at the Games take place at the Olympic Green Hockey Field. The five-a-side tournament gets underway on September 7 and concludes on September 17, while the seven-a-side competition starts on the September 8 with finals scheduled for September 16.
Blind squad: Ajmal Ahmed (Worcester), Andrew Briant (Birmingham), David Clarke (Harpenden), Lee Greatbatch (Worcester), Jonathan Gribbin (Oldham/ Abergavenny), Simon Hill (Wolverhampton), William Norman (Worcester), Keryn Seal (Berkley Alford, Worcestershire) and two sighted goal-keepers Jonathan Pugh (Hereford) and Daniel James (Exeter).
Cerebral Palsy squad: Michael Barker (Liverpool), Matthew Dimbylow (Cheshire), Matthew Ellis (Colchester), Richard Fox (Hemel Hempstead), Keiran Martin (Stirling), Jonathan Paterson (Motherwell), Greame Paterson (Duns), Jordan Raynes (Wythenshawe), Mark Robertson (Penicuik), Leon Taylor (Chaddesdon), Wayne Ward (Manchester) and Michael Wilson (Chelmsford).