Two local men will play their part when the Diabetes Euro Futsal Championship kicks off in the Ukraine on Sunday, July 21st.
Michael Lynch from Ballinasloe Town plays on the team while Aidan Raftery from Roscommon town is the team’s sports therapist.
The tournament, which began after the last UEFA European Championships, is a 16-team tournament with teams from all over Europe competing. This is the first time the Republic of Ireland will have a team at the tournament.
Futsal is a variant of association football played on a hard court indoors. It is a version of five-a-side football albeit played with a smaller, harder, low-bounce ball. The idea behind the championships is to demonstrate that having diabetes does not stop people having a full and active life.
The Republic of Ireland squad of ten is made up of players from seven different counties that have come through a series of trials.
Organiser and goalkeeper, Cathal Fleming, came up with the idea after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
He said: “Being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2016 was very tough and I found it extremely difficult to come to terms with the diagnosis and the impact on my daily lifestyle. But now it has offered me this fantastic opportunity to represent my country and I am really looking forward to it. The commitment from the lads who regularly travel to the Sport Ireland Centre in Abbotstown for training from all over the country is unbelievable and shows their commitment, as the first ever Irish representative team in the competition, to giving our best performance possible. We know the competition will be tough as many of the other teams will have more experience than us but we have the Irish fighting spirit in abundance”.
The Republic of Ireland have received no funding ahead of the upcoming trip so those involved have been busy fundraising for gear, travel, accommodation etc. With that in mind, they would appreciate any support or help. To make a donation, visit https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/diaeuro-ireland.