Grangemouth coach pushes Scotland to top six world ranking

Greig Taylor from Grangemouth coaches the Scotland cerebal palsy football team.
Greig Taylor from Grangemouth coaches the Scotland cerebal palsy football team.

Greig Taylor is a coach of a Scottish national football team and faces the same kind of selection headaches as Gordon Strachan.

The 26-year-old from Grangemouth has to make decisions about who plays and who doesn’t, what tactics to adopt and when to make a substitution.

But unlike Strachan, Taylor has to keep in mind that his squad shares one unique circumstance - each player has cerebal palsy (CP).

The condition, of which there are several types, limits body movement to varying degrees. Although treatments have advanced markedly in recent years, there is still no known cure.

Those with CP have to learn to live with it - but that doesn’t mean they can’t lead active lives and still play the nation’s favourite sport.

And that’s where Taylor steps in. He’s an assistant development officer for disability football at the SFA.

Scotland has one of the few national footballing associations to hold the prestigious UEFA ‘Six Star’ status, and one of these stars is awarded specifically for the SFA’s work in disability football.

Taylor is one of a number of coaches who helps bring the game to those who otherwise might have expected they would have to sit out.

“The focus is always on what they can do, and not what they can’t,” he told Heraldsport.

“I use the same coaching principles as I would do for any player.”

His career as a coach began in ordinary circumstances.

“I first started voluntary coaching in Falkirk,” he explained.

“I then found work with Falkirk Council and then the SFA, working at summer schools and coaching skills with kids. I eventually became a youth development officer attached to Broxburn United.”

From there came options to get involved in disability football coaching, leading to Taylor taking charge of the CP national team last year.

“I was surprised at the level of ability the players have,” he added.

“The team is currently ranked fourth in Europe and sixth in the world, which is the highest they’ve ever been.”

CP football is played by two teams of seven players, and matches last for 30 minutes per half.

The Scottish team is based at Forthbank Stadium in Stirling and trains once a month. Although there is no organised league for them to play in, they do travel, usually at least once a year, to compete in international tournaments. The leading CP international sides are currently Russia and Ukraine - but Scotland more than hold their own.

“The 2010 European Championships were held at Toryglen, and Scotland finished fifth - beating England along the way,” added Taylor.

“In August, they’ll take part in the Intercontinental tournament in Barcelona.”