ParalympicsGB select 14 footballers to take on the world in Brazil
The British Paralympic Association (BPA) today announced the 14 footballers who will compete for ParalympicsGB at Rio 2016.
Of the 14 athletes, all but two of the team make their Paralympic debut; just former Everton FC Academy player Michael Barker and Scottish veteran Jonathan Paterson return from London and both will compete in their third Games.
Among the new players are former Birmingham City FC player Jack Rutter and Sean Highdale who previously played for Liverpool FC and also represented England at Under-16s level. Both Jack and Sean joined the national football 7-a-side teams after acquired brain injuries. The squad also features former Tranmere Rovers forward Ollie Nugent, who currently plays for Chester FC.
The ParalympicsGB team will be drawn from several of the home nations, with players from the English, Scottish and Northern Irish squads - many of whom competed internationally for their home nations at recent World and European Championships.
Jack Rutter, captain of the team and one of the faces of the ‘Supercharge ParalympicsGB’ campaign to galvanise public support for the team, said today:
“There is no greater honour than to represent your country on the international stage and it’s a proud moment for me today to be announced as captain of this team of outstanding players.
" It’s a proud moment for me today to be announced as captain of this team of outstanding players." Jack Rutter
“We’ve come together to create a really competitive force and we believe we’re up there with the best teams in the world. We’re going out to Rio to make everyone back at home proud, and I hope the nation will Supercharge the team to some truly memorable performances.”
"I hope the nation will Supercharge the team to some truly memorable performances." Jack Rutter
Jonathan Paterson, who first made his Paralympic debut in Beijing, said:
“This will be my third Paralympic Games and I don’t think we’ve ever been stronger. The amount of progress we’ve made throughout this cycle has been impressive, and it’s great to have new faces on the team who have created greater strength in depth. I can’t wait to step on to the pitch for the first time in Rio.”
"I don’t think we’ve ever been stronger." Jonathan Paterson
Penny Briscoe MBE, ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for Rio 2016, said:
“This is a fantastic and talented group of players and I’d like to pay credit to all of the home nations for the excellent work they have undertaken to identify new talent and to bring them through to compete on the international stage.
"They have the opportunity to shine when the Games get under way in 86 days’ time." Penny Briscoe MBE
“I’d also like to congratulate the players for all of the hard work which has led to their selection to the team. They have the opportunity to shine when the Games get under way in 86 days’ time.”
Jeff Davis, Team Leader, said:
“I am really proud to lead these players as we prepare to compete at the Rio Paralympics, it’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase this sport and I believe their hard work will pay dividends at the Games. The top teams are incredibly competitive and there will be no easy matches, but we feel ready to take on the challenge.”
"We feel ready to take on the challenge." Jeff Davis
Today’s announcement brings the number of selected athletes to a total of 105 across a total of nine sports.
Selected athletes (football 7-a-side):
Home town: Gloucester
Home town: Stratford, London
Home town: Stockton on Tees
Home town: Irby, Wirral
Home town: Ilminster
Home town: Peterborough
Home town: Liverpool
Home town: Dunstable
Home town: Lennoxtown / Motherwell
Home town: Livingston
Home town: Bristol
Home town: Motherwell
Home town: Downpatrick