Stirling Albion academy coach Jamie Kelly has been selected to compete for the Scotland Paralympic team in an upcoming tournament taking place on October 13th.
The tournament will take place in Ireland and will feature squads from Canada, Wales, Ireland, and others.
“A few years ago I tried out. I knew someone and they asked me to come along but at that point I was still going through Chiari malformation, my brain condition kind of went and I ended up paralysed.” said Kelly.
The condition that Kelly suffers from is rare in the UK, with just 1 out of every 300,000 people diagnosed.
The now 28 year old has been suffering with this condition since his early twenties. But has been hospital free for two years now.
“I got selected to go back. They knew I was doing a bit better and stuff and they asked me to go for a trial.”
“When the Scottish squad selection came in, I was hoping to get in. Obviously there’s six goalkeepers and I was one of the two that was selected.”
The squad have been training in Stenhousemuir once a month for the past six months. They hold a four hour training camp each month before deciding on the final squad.
As the tournament approaches, the team will also be travelling down to England for training sessions.
“This will be my first tournament with them. I have been training with them for the last six months. Every month they hold a four hour training camp.” said Kelly.
The goalkeeper played pro youth when he was younger as well as at the Junior Academy level. When Kelly started to have medical problems, he had to take a step back from his football career.
He said “I tried going back into the amateur ranks but it was just too much in terms of the fear of getting hurt.”
“It was hard to accept, it was something that I never truly accepted.”
When Kelly’s third operation came around, he was told he would most likely never walk again, let alone play football.
“My third operation I was paralysed from the waist down and was told that there would be a 98.5 percent chance that I would never walk again.”
“That put the fear in me but there was a drive to get up and get going again.” said Kelly.
Just a few months later, Kelly was running a 5k and playing seven a side football.
“I have always been quite stubborn so when I was first told that there was a 98 percent chance that I would never walk again my first thought was – no, I will.”
“It has always been one of the proudest moments to turn around and I have actually done it. I am not just playing for the para team I am obviously coaching at Stirling which they never thought I would be able to do.” said Kelly.
For Kelly, this tournament is not just for the football, or the glory of winning. He is looking forward to enjoying the sport that we all love.
“Hopefully we can get a win and win the tournament, but for me it’s just a case of I just want to enjoy it, I want to get that feel good factor again.”
The squad will be hoping to show their best as the international tournament approaches. This tournament will serve as a build up to the international tournament which will be taking place in Italy.
By Damon Savenelli