Players from Partick Thistle’s amputee football team will fly the flag for Scotland when they make their international bow this Saturday.
The newly-formed squad - with all but two of its members from Thistle - have been putting the final touches to their preparations for the historic match with their Dutch counterparts which will take place at the SportScotland National Training Centre in Inverclyde.
The squad comprises 11 individuals each with a lower or upper limb amputation. The team was put together by Amputee Football Association Scotland (AFAS), the charity set up in October 2016 to promote and develop the discipline of amputee football in Scotland.
AFAS began amputee football last year as a pilot project in partnership with Partick Thistle Community Trust. The sport proved hugely popular, attracting enormous media attention and public empathy.
Training is held fortnightly at Firhill and AFAS launched a rival team with Dundee United in September. An East vs West clash is scheduled for later in the year and a tug of war over player signings has already ensued.
Amputee football is well established south of the border and across the world, with leagues established in more than 30 countries worldwide. The European Amputee Football Championships took place in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this month and its final between England and hosts Turkey pulled in a crowd of more than 40,000.
Until recently however, the sport did not exist in Scotland. The aim of AFAS is to create Scotland’s own amputee football league, an objective fully supported by the Scottish Football Association.