The countdown might well be on to this summer’s European Championships, but for one Donegal teenager, there’s another football tournament on the horizon of more pressing importance.
James Boyle from Tubberkeen, Dungloe is a member of the Irish Amputee football team and in a few weeks time, they travel to England to compete in their first competative international tournement.
The squad will depart from Dublin on March 30th and over the following two days will play against Poland, Germany and Great Britain in a four nations championship. Still only 14 - he’ll be 15 next month - James is the youngest player on the squad but he’s set to play a big part for Ireland at the tournament.
Simon Baker who is the football Development Officer with the Irish Amputee Football Association says James is a super player. “He is a fantastic lad with a great approach to the game. He’s one of our star players. His dad brings him to training in Dublin every two weeks and his attitude has been brilliant.”
James is a second year student at Rosses Community School and is the eldest son of Daniel and Breid Boyle. He was born in April ‘97 with a deformed leg and a heart condition which required major surgery in Crumlin Hospital when he was only three-days-old. James’ early days were spent either in hospital, or in and out of hospital and by the age of six, he was forced to have his leg removed. Since then, he has worn a prosthetic limb.
“He had his first surgery on his leg when he was nine months,” Daniel explained. “He lost his leg when he was six. The surgery was to correct the deformity but while it works for some people, unfortunately it didn’t work for James.”
Daniel says James has a fantastic attitude to life and despite his physcial disability, he has got on well. His involvement with the Irish amputee team is an example of how much progress he has been making in recent years.
“We had James in Dublin at a clinic when I saw a poster in the surgery about the team,” Daniel said. “I thought this could be something for James and so I rang the number. It went from there. Two weeks later, there was an information day in Dublin and three members of the England team came over and had a chat. They were brilliant and we’ve been going up to Dublin for the training twice a week since then.” James also trains a number of times a week with Dungloe Boxing Club.
Daniel and James’ younger brother Brendan are both Chelsea fans but James supports Arsenal. He loves his football and according to his dad, he can’t wait for the tournament. “He’s very proud to be playing for Ireland and we’re all looking forward to it,” Daniel added.