Amputee footballer, 12, selected to play for England just 18 months after first taking up the sport
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Freddy Mahoney had his left leg removed when he was just 14 weeks old. He only started playing with a team that caters to different disabilities at the end of 2021.
The youngster has represented his country in Ireland and will be playing for England at a football camp in Warsaw, Poland, next month. Striker Freddy said: "I felt amazed because I never thought I would be able to play football for them.
"I enjoy playing because it’s just a fun sport." Proud mum Amanda Mahoney, 45, said she was ‘dead chuffed’ when she found out he had been selected as she’s just ‘so proud’ of her son.
She said: "I always thought he had a chance but I suspected he wouldn’t be considered strong enough yet. I thought they would leave it until next year or the year after.
"But when we found out, I was dead chuffed - it just makes you so proud." Freddy was born when Amanda was just 24 weeks pregnant and he had a blood clot in his left leg, which resulted in it being amputated when he was 14 weeks old.
But despite this, the mum-of-two has said that Freddy is ‘one of the most resilient people’ she knows and that playing football has made him even more confident. Amanda, of Birkenshaw, West Yorkshire,. said: "It’s absolutely massively helped his confidence.
"Even his teachers have mentioned that his confidence has gone through the roof since going to the England camps. It’s so nice to see.
"After every camp, there is a huge boost to his confidence and he is a little bit more self-assured.” Freddy only trains with the England team around once every six weeks while at a training camp.
When he’s back home, he’s unable to train with a team for people with amputees and instead plays with people who have Cerebral Palsy or use frames to help them walk. Amanda, an accountant, has said this is because there’s ‘not enough amputee teams’ in the UK and she hopes more football clubs will engage with the sport in the future.
She said: "There’s not enough amputee teams around and there isn’t many of the big clubs that have engaged with amputee football just yet. There’s only a few places in the country where they actually run amputee specific sessions.
"As parents, we are all trying to desperately get our local clubs to get on board but it’s a bit of a fight at the moment. I think as awareness increases, the number of clubs that are willing to put their time and effort into it, will increase. It would be fantastic if we could get a local amputee team up and running.”
Amanda is now supporting the football team to raise money for the camps, as they are all run by volunteers and rely on people donating money.
She said: "When I told him about the camp, he was really excited. He was a little nervous, as you would expect, but when he got there, they were so welcoming and so friendly. They really make all the kids feel welcome and at home. By the end of the weekend, he was brilliant.
"They encourage the children that when they are putting on their England kit, that they are representing their country. It’s also really important they uphold the values and they tell them to get into ‘Lion mode’.
"They do a really good job of boosting their confidence and making them aware of how big a deal it is."
You can donate to support the football camps on their Just Giving page.