Amputee footballer in line for World Cup slot

Amputee footballer in line for World Cup slot

James Catchpole, front right, with the Great Britain Amputee Football Team

James Catchpole in his Oxford City Amps kit

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

THE man who set up Oxford’s amputee football team has now set his sights on World Cup glory.

James Catchpole spoke after returning from a triumphant trip abroad with the Great Britain Amputee Football Team.

Now the literary agent hopes to be picked for the 12-team World Cup in Kaliningrad, Russia, next month.

The 31-year-old this year set up Oxford City Amps, a team of seven which is set to play its first league game tomorrow.

The Jericho resident had his right leg removed following his birth after getting cavernous hemangioma, a cluster of abnormal blood vessels.

In the Poland tornament, the British team won their four games, two against the hosts and against Ireland and Ukraine.

He said: “It was wonderful, really thrilling. It is really exciting to play for your country.”

The team, for which he plays left back, gets cash support from the Football Association, but each player had to raise £1,000 for the trip.

MrCatchpole’s fundraising efforts included a four-hour trek up Snowdon, Wales, last month.

He said: “It was the hottest day of the year. It was ghastly.”

The 50-minute, seven-a-side games are played on crutches. No false legs are allowed and Mr Catchpole said it is “very quick and intense”.

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He said: “If you played against a team of able-bodied guys in the park we would probably win or draw. It is very hard work because you are running with your arms.”

Likening it to wheelchair rugby, he said: “You get collisions and tackles where people go flying and crutches go through the air.”

And Mr Catchpole said he hopes organisers will bring amputee football into the Paralympics.

London 2012 featured seven-a-side football for players with cerebral palsy and five-a-side for the visually impaired using a noise-making ball.

Bt the addition of amputee football would embrace poorer countries where loss of limbs are common from wars, landmines and earthquakes, he said.

Mr Catchpole said: “We were hoping it would be in for Rio 2016, but that now looks unlikely.”

He said the London Paralympics, which closed on Sunday, had changed attitudes.

He said: “Since the Paralympics have been on, the way people look at me, the awkwardness has gone. It is wonderful. You spend your life trying to dispel that awkwardness, you get into sport to try to overcome that response.

“The Paralympics has done that for us without us having to.”

Oxford City Amps play in the Bobi League for disabled people in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

For information about the team, which trains at Oxford City Football Club in Marston, email south@theEAFA.co.uk

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