The inspirational story of a young footballer born with one foot has led to Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley backing England’s next generation of amputee players.
Jamie Oakey was born prematurely and weighed only 2lb 4oz after his mum Elaine was involved in a serious accident.
Fast forward 15 years and the Blackpool teenager has been named in the England Amputee FA’s Under-23 squad.
Jamie – who was born without a right foot and with a short right leg – is also part of a group of junior players hoping to take part in an international training camp in Hoffenheim, Germany, in July.
To get there the young amputees and their families need to raise £5,000 and so Jamie’s mum approached Fleetwood Town.
Pilley was so moved by the story that he has not only offered financial support for the Germany training camp but is also giving the England squad free use of the Cod Army’s Poolfoot Farm training base whenever they need it.
He said: “Jamie’s story is truly inspirational.
“When I heard about him and his team-mates, and then meeting his mum Elaine, I knew I just had to help.
“He is a local lad who has already achieved so much and so anything we can do to help him and his team-mates, we’ll do it.
“I’m delighted to offer financial support for the Germany trip in July, but more importantly for me is to offer the England squad free use of our wonderful facilities here at Poolfoot any time they need them.
“It was a privilege for me to meet Jamie and his mum and I wish the lads every success out in Germany.
“We cannot wait to welcome them here to Poolfoot in the future.”
Proud mum Elaine, whose son has previously featured in The Gazette’s All Stars supplement, said: “All these boys are totally amazing, inspirational superhumans who have overcome so much to be able to play the sport they love.
“The lads are amputees for various reasons, whether it be a birth defect, cancer or serious accident.
“They are truly remarkable and nothing holds these kids back.
“However, due to funding limitations, players’ families need to raise money to meet travel and kit costs.
“I can’t thank Andy Pilley enough for his support. The donation for the Germany trip, which is a great opportunity for these young lads, together with the offer of the use of Fleetwood’s training ground, really means a lot – thank you Fleetwood Town!”
All national squads are supported by the England Amputee Football Association (EAFA), a registered charity, and the annual European training camp is co-ordinated by the European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF).
EAFA chairman Steve Johnson said: “This is a fantastic social interaction opportunity for young amputees involved in our organisation to travel to Germany and meet other young amputees from various countries around Europe.
“I would like to thank Andy Pilley for his really generous donation towards this training camp to enable the young amputees to attend.”
The squad will also get to see Fleetwood Town in action as they have been invited to the Cod Army’s home game against Gillingham this Saturday, March 2 – the club’s Junior Football Day which celebrates young grassroots players.
If you would like more information, or to support the England Amputee Football Association, visit their website at www.theeafa.co.uk