Jack Douglas is on track for a bright future for the Amputee Boys in Green as he continues to impress with Bohemians in recent months. The Meath youngster was the top goalscorer for The Gypsies in the Irish Amputee Football Cup in February with two goals in the final against Shamrock Rovers. Douglas spoke to FAI.ie ahead of a trip to Scotland with his club side and it was tragic circumstances that led to his amputation.
‘It was June 2007 and my dad was out mowing the grass on the ride-on lawnmower. He was going in and out of the trees and he was reversing back. Me being me, he never saw me with the box on the back blocking his view. It hit my head and took me under it which is when he heard and copped on what had happened.’ Douglas shared.
Douglas was rushed to the hospital and initial fears were that he would lose his left leg. But at the time, they were able to save Douglas from amputation as he began a road to recovery.
‘At the time, the hospital were looking to amputate the left leg but that is actually the one I still have now. We were getting frames from Crumlin hospital as my knee was not right, then I would go into a cast after that. But I was only getting two to three weeks of freedom before going back into the same cycle again.
‘I had six frames before we discussed if there was anything else we could do, as it was not getting better and I was not getting any younger. There was a list of things we could do and amputation was the best.’ said Douglas.
At the time of the decision, Douglas’ parents spoke to other families while he also spoke with a current teammate about his experience with football coming up across the conversations.
‘We got in touch with Cappagh Hospital, where I get my legs now and also another lad who plays football with the team. He was telling me about what is good about it and if I went ahead with the amputation, football is a great option to get involved in. We went ahead with it then.
‘Before my amputation, my parents also spoke with other parents whose sons or daughters had gotten amputations already. They said to come down to one of the training sessions to see what it was like and it all started from there really. I hadn’t played any other football before that and got a real feel for it the first time, it was something else.’ added Douglas.
The game has developed domestically since Jack first got involved with the launch of the Irish Amputee Football Association National League 2018.
‘When I first joined there was only junior football so I didn’t have anyone really to look up to or that were in the public eye at least. But then I got invited to a few international training sessions in Limerick with the seniors and you could really see the quality then with something to work towards.’ Douglas added.
Jack is hoping to make the step up to senior level as the Amputee World Cup in Turkey takes place later this year.
‘I was with the junior team in Germany, Italy and Poland so far with a Junior Cup also taking place in Ireland. I’ve been training with the squad and keep pushing towards that goal of making squads.’
Following a stop-start few years with the pandemic, Jack is happy to be back on the pitch with Bohemians and Ireland.
‘With Bohemians, we usually train on Tuesday nights in UCD, and with the World Cup coming up, we said we’d join in with Shamrock Rovers on Wednesday nights to help improve the international squad. This means we have 8-10 players versus just 5-a-side for training. The sessions can be a bit feisty given the rivalry but we all are so eager to improve.
‘During the first lockdown I was 16 so was only able to go up to senior level at that stage. Bohemians were very good to me and supported us a lot. A few of the lads have great experience and on a Tuesday and Thursday, we did Zoom sessions with strength and conditioning. We could go outside with our laptops and get to work. It was the same then on Saturdays with the internationals.
‘It was such a relief to get back out training as there is only so much you can do at home, you need football too.’ Douglas added.
With one eye on Turkey, Jack can dream of becoming a Paralympian as there is a movement to get Amputee Football included in future games.
‘I hope to get to many World Cups, and European Championships and to travel the world. I am so glad I can reach the heights and represent Ireland. It would be great to have Amputee Football recognised as a Paralympic Sport and I know they are pushing for that too.’
For more information about Amputee Football, the Irish Amputee Football Association and Training Sessions please email [email protected]
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