From teenage dreams to the Paralympics – footballer’s message of hope to youngsters

A sportsman with cerebral palsy has spoken about how football has changed his life and is hoping to encourage the disabled sports stars of tomorrow not to give up on their dreams.

Jonathan Paterson’s condition affects the entire right side of his body. When he was born his parents were given a rather grim prognosis, with doctors predicting that their son’s disability was so severe that he would never learn to walk or talk.

Despite this, the youngster’s development astounded medics and by the time he was a teenager he already dreamed of playing football.

Cruel jibes from some of his peers threatened to put paid to his ambitions, but fortunately Jonathan was spotted by a scout from the Scottish national team for those with the movement disorder.

Now 28-years-old, he captains the international side and has notched up some 90 caps for his country. He has also competed at no less than three Paralympic Games and is now preparing for this year’s Cerebral Palsy World Championships, which will be taking place in Argentina this autumn.

In an interview with the Daily Record last week, Jonathan said: “I’m towards the end of my career and this football team changed my whole world. I wouldn’t take my disability away because it led to so many opportunities.

“Growing up, people are sometimes rude and ignorant about disability.

“Even football coaches and teachers don’t understand – but it doesn’t have to hold you back at all.”

He is encouraging those who may have a passion for the game to consider getting involved, with the possibility that an initial kick-about could lead them on the “adventure of a lifetime.”

“Dealing with the condition isn’t easy, but you can’t let it stop you doing big things,” he said.

“We are in schools and classrooms and making sure amateur footballers are aware of us. Why would you want to play on a Sunday when you could travel the world in a professional environment?”

At EnViva Paediatric Care, our experienced staff can provide complex nurse-managed homecare for babies, children and young people with a range of disabling conditions, including cerebral palsy. For more information about the services we provide, please contact us today.