Talented local international footballer Jamie Linden paid a visit to Oriel Park on Thursday afternoon, where he was presented with a signed Dundalk FC jersey.
The 29-year-old from Dromiskin is part of the Republic of Ireland’s FAI National Futsal squad for players with Down Syndrome that will take part in the SU-DS (Sports Union for Athletes with Down Syndrome) European Championships in Padova, Italy next week.
Futsal is an indoor five-a-side game where the ball is heavier and the pace of the game is fast. Futsal is great for skill development and has been played at international level by players with Down Syndrome since 2018.
The Irish squad, which consists of eight players from six different counties, is managed by former Dundalk FC player and current FAI Football For All Development Officer Paul Smyth. Jamie is the only player from Louth to be named on the squad.
Jamie and his teammates will face Portugal, Italy, Spain and Turkey in the tournament which runs from September 3rd-10th and his mother Irene said it was a dream come true for the former St Brigid’s School student.
“Football is Jamie’s whole life,” she said. “He has a really positive can-do attitude and when he was selected for the squad he was ecstatic.
“He is an avid Dundalk FC supporter and follows all their games. He also has done some goalkeeping sessions with Dundalk FC goalkeeper, Peter Cherrie.”
Football is not the only sport that Jamie has excelled in. He has also received accolades in snooker, bowling and martial arts where he has competed in the White Tiger challenge, the MMA Combat Athletes Open and the WOMAA World Martial Games. Jamie is also a regular on the stage at the An Táin Dundalk as part of Encore Productions Rehabcare.
After leaving school, Jamie continued to play football every Friday in DkIT Sport with Rehabcare, under the guidance of coach Gerry Roe, and he plays football every Wednesday with Special Olympics coaches Sean Nulty and Ailish McArdle.
To help cover the costs of Jamie achieving his dream, a recent tournament was held in DkIT Sport to raise funds for his trip and a GoFundMe ‘Please support Jamie’s participation in Euros’ has also been set up.
“He always has a football jersey on and a football at his feet” explained his mother Irene. “Over the years he was encouraged by supportive teachers, coaches and friends, who saw his potential. It would be fantastic if Dundalk’s community can help him realise his dream.”
You can contribute to the GoFundMe page here.