A Peterborough United amputee footballer is hoping his dream of representing England at a World Cup will not be dashed due to the team’s lack of funding.
Kieran Lambourne (19) from Wisbech is hoping to don his nation’s colours at the Amputee Football World Cup when the tournament kicks off in Mexico on October 27.
England are among the favourites to win the competition having finished second in the Euros last year - losing the final to hosts Turkey in front of 40,000 fans - but even making it to Mexico remains a daunting challenge for the team with another £10,000 needed in the next fortnight to finance the trip.
The FA removed its financial support for the amputee side in 2006, citing ‘sporadic league participation and low levels of player participation’, making it is one of the few national disability football teams currently not receiving funding from the governing body.
The annual amount it costs to fund the amputee national side is just £70,000 – a figure dwarfed by FA chief executive Martin Glenn’s reported £650,000 salary.
Goalkeeper Kieran, who was born without one of his arms below the elbow, is currently studying exercise and sport science at the University of Portsmouth. He said: “It means a lot to represent your country. It’s what a lot of people dream about.
“It would be a big blow not to take part in the World Cup. We really want to get out there.”
A campaign has been launched – SweetFA – to raise awareness of the lack of support, calling on people to sign a petition for The FA to review their decision and embrace the nation’s amputee side under their umbrella, and to make up the more immediate cash shortfall ahead of the World Cup alongside donations.
England Amputee Football Team head coach Owen Coyle Junior said: “As one of England’s few disability football teams to not receive funding, we’re forced to rely on generous donations to play the sport we love, and represent England with pride.
“It’s certainly not through our lack of trying – we actively speak to The FA on a monthly basis to explain our progress, invite them to events, and generally keep them updated around our national programme. Most recently I was told that ‘there was no budget to be uplifted to bring the amputee football team back under the FA’s banner’.
“It’s incredibly disheartening, especially when you see the large sums of money that are invested elsewhere. Our amputees are three times World Cup winners, currently ranked second in Europe and 10th in the World, and are unbeaten in 2018.
“The guys play for the love of the game and, despite being war veterans and victims of unimaginable, life-changing illness and injury, show as much pride representing their nation as any other side, yet they’ll see zero support from our nation’s governing body.”
Donations to the team can be made at: https://www.everyclick.com/eafaworldcup2018.