Former Hibs kid David Porcher admits it has been a whirlwind few months as he prepares to head off with Team GB to compete in the Paralympics in Rio.
The 19-year-old, who plays for Preston Athletic, was only introduced to seven-a-side football for athletes with cerebral palsy earlier this year and since then things have really taken off for him.
He has played for Scotland and has been named in the 14-man GB squad that will head for Brazil in September alongside the likes of ex-Birmingham City player Jack Rutter, who will captain the team.
“I have always loved football and it has been a big part of my life, but getting involved with the Paralympic team has opened up a whole new world to me,” admiited Porcher, who is from Livingston.
“One of my coaches at Preston Athletic mentioned to me back in January that there was a team for players with cerebral palsy in Scotland and that they were looking for new players.
“When I first went to train and play with the Scotland guys I was not too sure what to expect, but what I found was a bunch of guys with a great skill level and the same desire to succeed that any team does.
“And because it was seven-a-side, you had to cover some real ground and it certainly showed me a whole new side to football that is for sure.”
Cerebral palsy is the general term for a number of neurological conditions that affect movement and co-ordination but, as a youngster, Porcher did not try and let his disability affect him too much. He got involved in all sports and showed a particular talent for football.
“I was involved with the Hibs youth teams from under-12 to under-17 level and was lucky enough to represent Scotland at under-16 level,” said Porcher, who now works for RBS at the Gyle. “I still keep in touch with a number of the guys from those days back at Hibs and it was a good experience at that age.
“After that, I had a year at Stenhousemuir, but I wasn’t enjoying my football as much as I wanted to and thankfully the move to Preston Athletic in 2015 was the best one I ever made.
“It is a good standard and we play to win, but the boys also have a laugh and a joke and there is great team spirit and banter around the group.
“The club have also been great in helping me along the way to Rio, generally just giving me support and holding some fund-raisers while my work have also been really good giving me so much time off to head down south to training camps and the like.”
Porcher often plays midfield for Preston Athletic, but in Rio it is likely that he will play as a central striker for Team GB.
He said: “With there being no offsides, there are chances to grab a lot of goals in the seven-a-side game and hopefully out in Brazil I will be able to get myself on the end of a few opportunities and help the team.
“The standard in the GB squad is brilliant with a few guys involved who have previously been on the books of professional clubs.
“We were out tato Rio a few months ago to see what awaits us so that has been good while the facilities we have been able to use at the FA’s St Georges Park from time to time for training are amazing.
“It all just seems like a dream to me, the last few months are a bit of a blur, but I cannot wait for the Paralympics.”