Amputee Football Association Scotland – Iain Matthew

Amputee Football Association Scotland – Iain Matthew

My name is Iain Matthew and I’m from Glenrothes
in Fife. I’ve been playing football for all my life but I’ve been playing amputee football
for about a year. I was born with a deformed left foot and a club foot on the right, which
meant that I didn’t have an ankle bone. So, when I was 3, well actually I was born in
Zambia in Africa, so I had to come back over, I got my operations in Edinburgh. I had to
get an ankle bone put in to the foot and my left leg was amputated. Since a young age
I’ve always played football, over at the park with my friends, I played for the school team,
played for local teams and just progressed from there but I never really got to a great
standard, not because I would say the disability was holding me back but a lot of people are
a bit faster than me. I’ve always done the swimming, my parents were always keen for
me to do swimming, just for keeping my body flexible, but there was a wee bit of talent
there. So, I was put forward to go to the Fife team and then progressed to the international
level at a young age. I think I made my debut for Scotland at 12 and then was lucky enough
to compete for Scotland through the ranks and then managed to get into the Great Britain
team in 1991 for the European Championships in Barcelona and then progressed to Barcelona
for the Paralympics, and Atlanta in 1994. I also managed to be one of the first disabled
athletes to swim in the able-bodied commonwealth games in 1994. I stopped in 2004, I had quite
a few surgeries on my ankle, and everytime I played I was in pain. I just felt if I didn’t
stop I’d be in a wheelchair by the time I’m 40 or 50. I got married, had a wee girl, which
was in my thinking as well and I had another surgery and it actually helped me, and I saw
the article last February and emailed Ashley and said ‘Look, I’d love to come along, I’d
love to see how it is and hopefully progress to playing again’. So, I’ve never looked back!
I think just having a disability, I think sport is a big, major factor in you developing
with your disability. Keeping your flexibility, that’s the most important thing. And trying
to keep the weight down is hard. Going back to when I swam, I was swimming twice a day,
7 days a week and you were fit. When you stop that you do put on the weight, and I’m trying
to work that weight off now, it’s not easy but sport is a massive thing to get involved
with to keep you fit, but also to get out there and meet different people and just enjoy
yourself again. Some of the guys, I was quite lucky enough that I lost my leg when I was
younger, I don’t know any different, but people that have just lost their legs a year ago
or that, they’ve been used to having 2 legs, mentally that must be hard for them, cause
they’re trying to do what they’ve done before and they’ll get frustrated with themselves.
But coming along to things like the football or swimming or bowling or just going to a
club, you can discuss that with other people and they can tell you how to get better and
get over the hurdles with the mental side of it. You may not be great the first session
or second session, but take small steps and build on it and that will make you feel, you’ll
start feeling better about yourself and you’ll be glad to see other people that have maybe
done it and you can ask them questions. Don’t be scared to ask questions because I think
a lot of people are scared to ask questions. These guys here, it’s different stages where
they’ve lost their legs and we’ll talk about how we lost our legs and you have to be open.
If you do have any problems, just ask us. We’ll try and help you, or we know people
that are in the same situation, that went through things that you’ve went through as
well. It’s great to be part of a team again, because I’ve missed that from retiring from
the swimming. It’s a great bunch of guys, make you feel welcome, good banter and it’s
just great to be playing football.

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