Widow to help research into football links to brain damage

Amanda Kopel at the Scottish Parliament
Amanda Kopel at the Scottish Parliament

A health crusader who forced the government into a major policy change is to use her campaign to spearhead research into football-related brain injuries.

Amanda Kopel, widow of the late Frank Kopel, won her battle for people with dementia to be eligible for free healthcare through the Frank’s Law campaign she started back in 2013.

The fight began after Frank – born and bred in Falkirk and a former football star with Dundee United and Manchester United – was diagnosed with dementia at the age 59 which meant he wasn’t entitled to free healthcare because he was under the age of 65.

That policy will now change thanks to Amanda’s determination and personal care will be given to everyone regardless of their age from 2019.

Amanda said she will still battle on to have it introduced before the 2019 date, but has also revealed she will use the prominence of Frank’s football career and the Frank’s Law campaign to fund research into professional football’s links to long-term brain damage.

There is anecdotal evidence that players who head balls routinely in games can be more at risk of developing dementia later in life.

As Frank was a centre-half whose job it was to regularly clear balls with his head, Amanda firmly believes it has a link to the onset of his dementia.

She said: “If you look at Jeff Astle’s case, it cites that it definitely contributed trauma to his brain and we are looking at Frank’s scans at the moment and we’re pretty sure it had an impact.

“Now that the campaign has done what it set it out to do, I would like to use it to help fund research into this area of neurology, as well as other dementia causes.

“When Frankie was ill I would have taken him anywhere in the world to find a cure.”