Scotland cerebral palsy football ace Jonny Paterson: I may quit game over SFA withdrawal

Happier times for Jonathan as he celebrates his selection for last years Paralympics in Rio with family and friends (Pic by Alan Watson)
Happier times for Jonathan as he celebrates his selection for last years Paralympics in Rio with family and friends (Pic by Alan Watson)

Scotland ace Jonathan Paterson may quit the game altogether due to the Scottish FA’s decision to withdraw us from football’s Cerebral Palsy World Championships.

Motherwell man Jonathan (29) and his team-mates had been due to contest the seven-a-side tournament in Argentina this September, but their plans now lie in ruins.

“I’m very upset with the SFA’s decision to withdraw Scotland,” Jonathan told the Motherwell Times.

“I had committed to this tournament early in the year and myself and the rest of the team have been training really hard in the last couple of months to get in shape.

“Pulling out came as a huge blow as we weren’t expecting this.

“It is possible that I might quit playing for Scotland now, although I would like to stay involved in some capacity through coaching.”

The SFA’s decision to withdraw came after a rule change by governing body IFCPF meant any player with a British passport could represent any of the home nations, potentially creating a mixed British team and jeopardising Scotland’s status as an independent football nation.

Scottish FA chief executive Stuart Regan said: “It is extremely regrettable that despite our appeals the IFCPF has chosen to enforce this rule change, which we believe would have a detrimental effect on Scotland’s status as an independent football nation.

“We have taken every possible action in an attempt to allow the team to compete but have determined that the new rule leaves us with no option other than to withdraw from all IFCPF competitions, including the World Championships, with immediate effect.

“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the players who were set to represent their country on the world stage later this year.

“This is a disappointing outcome to what has been a successful journey for the Scotland CP team, of whom the entire country can be proud.”

A silver lining for Jonathan about Scotland missing the Argentinian tournament is that he’ll get to spend time with wife Lisa and the baby she is expecting in August.

But – although he can’t wait to become a father for the first time and spend more time at home – Jonathan still can’t help feeling a sense of injustice.

“I can kind of understand the SFA’s decision a wee bit but I don’t think we (the Scotland players) should be penalised.

“It is not fair for many of the boys who’ve been part of the disability football programme for many years.

“Most of the players in the Scotland squad weren’t playing for amateur teams or boys clubs.

“They relied on the Scotland set-up to get out playing football.

“I had been so looking forward to going to Argentina. The fact that it has been taken away is very disappointing.”

Jonathan has represented Scotland teams for the past 11 years and has also been in the Great Britain squad at the last three Paralympic Games.

The star, capped 85 times for Scotland, helped GB to seventh placed finishes in Beijing in 2008 and London four years later.

He then had an unhappy time at last year’s Paralympics in Rio, where he made the squad but wasn’t selected to play in any of the matches as GB ultimately finished fifth.

“I thought I was going into Rio in the best shape of my life,” Jonathan added.

“But then I didn’t play. Most people would have been happy with a free holiday in Rio but I was disappointed.

“That gave me extra incentive to get in the Scotland team in Argentina, an opportunity which has now been taken away altogether.”

There will be four groups of four nations taking part in the 2017 Cerebral Palsy World Championships from September 4 to 24.

Scotland’s absence will likely mean that the organisers will select the highest ranked unqualified nation as our replacements.

“I will be a stay at home dad for three weeks while the tournament is going on,” Jonathan said. “So I’m living the dream!”