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Chelsea Icon Nevin Champions Scottish FA & Scottish Gas in Expanding Disability Football

Former Scotland international Pat Nevin has praised the Scottish FA’s latest initiative to increase the involvement of disabled participants in football, stating that it makes the sport more inclusive than ever.

This comes after the SFA teamed up with Scottish Gas to amplify grassroots football participation by financing 48 PARA Football Festivals this season. Furthermore, in collaboration with clubs throughout Scotland, they are ensuring the provision of necessary playing conditions to engage over 1,000 disabled participants across the country.

Source: SFA/Scottish Gas Scottish Cup

Thanks to this scheme, both the men’s and women’s Scottish Cup finals will feature history-making moments. Half of the mascots selected to lead the teams out at Hampden Park will be from Scotland’s PARA football community. This marks the first occasion where equal representation has been given for individuals with disabilities at the finals.

Nevin, who represented both Chelsea and Everton during his near three-decade career, expects this collaboration to lead to more positive change.

“One of the great things about being leaders and doing something that others haven’t thought of is that it drags everybody else along,” the 60-year-old explained.

“It’s normalized. Utterly normalized [having equal representation of mascots]. If that can be, why can’t others [do the same]?”

“In times gone by, it might’ve been a race thing. It might’ve been boys and girls. It has to be global inclusivity.”

Embed from Getty Images

The former winger was speaking at PARA Football Festival at Partick Thistle, also sponsored by nations governing body. Children aged 5-13 with various impairments were invited to participate and showcase their skills, celebrating football’s wide reach across all communities.

As part of this scheme, 120 football camps across the country will also enable youngsters from all socioeconomic backgrounds to engage in the beautiful game. These camps will also seek to tackle ‘holiday hunger,’ which impacts as many as 3 million people in the United Kingdom.

Theses efforts, particularly in PARA football, hold special significance for Nevin. His son, Simon, was diagnosed with autism during his father’s playing days. The ex-international wishes that opportunities like this were available during Simon’s upbringing.

“As a father to an autistic boy, I’d love to have had this when we were younger,” the now pundit revealed. But the sporting aspect the festival provides is not its only major benefit as Nevin elaborates.

“The most important thing would’ve been the growth in confidence and friends [his son would’ve made]. I see the kids playing behind me. I see how friendly they all are. How they are reacting.

Source: SFA/Scottish Gas Scottish Cup

“I’ve seen my own son’s confidence growing whenever he does something. The proudest day of my life isn’t scoring in London or Merseyside derbies. It’s the day my son passed his driving test.

“The moment he did that I could’ve jumped 20-foot tall. Because, when children with different needs do something special and you see their confidence and belief grow, there’s very little better than that in this world.

“Things like this help the kids. It helps the parents. It’s priceless.”


  • Callum Bishop

    Callum is a sports journalist who boasts a variety of experience in producing written and video content. If it involves kicking, throwing or hitting a ball, best believe that Callum is watching and covering it. Despite popular belief, he would never have made it pro regardless of any knee injuries. However, he absolutely lives off the time he nutmegged a Premier League player during five aside.