A FOOTBALL coach who was inspired to set up a new team for children with disabilities has spoken of the importance of sport in helping children improve their physical and mental health.

Robert Paterson told the Post how he set up the Duntocher Black Stars after seeing how children with disabilities weren’t being given the same opportunities in other clubs.

Robert, from Faifley, began the Black Stars in 2017 with only six players, but the club has since gone from strength to strength and is now ready to expand.

He told the Post: “We started off training before doing friendlies with teams of coaches I knew.

“It started to grow, and I now have people coming from Glasgow, Maryhill and one girl from Livingston.

“Our aim is to get them meeting people and develop their fitness skills.

“We are teaching them that it isn’t about football. They can learn first aid and train to become coaches.

“My coaches David, Andy, Rick, Luci, Kieran and Jennifer are the back bone of the team.

“There are a lot of different disabilities represented in our team and it is so great seeing them giving it their all and they really enjoy it.”

Robert knew the next steps for the Duntocher Black Stars was creating an all-inclusive team for younger players when one of his sons was told he “wasn’t good enough” to play for another club.

The Black Stars are now in the process of setting up their first youth disability team in response to demand from parents, with the new team set to launch next month.

The 45-year-old added: “My wee boy is absolutely fantastic. How was he not good enough?

“I was then informed it is because of his ADHD.

“I think that is wrong. Everybody should have a right to do something they want to do.

“At the end of August we are sorting out a youth disability and a kids team because I have been approached by a lots of parents saying that their kids are not getting the opportunity to play for a team because they have a disability.

“It is not about being the next Ronaldo. It is about kids coming here and having fun.”

Robert continued: “I don’t tolerate bullies. We have dealt with negative attitudes before and we won’t stand for it.

“The Duntocher Black Stars are one big family and welcome anybody.

“We build each other up and support each other.”

Robert is also hoping to bring in a professional to teach the players meditation techniques for relaxation and to help manage stressful situations.

He added: “I thought that would be a great idea to help our players suffering with mental health.

“Everything I do is to benefit the players and that is all I can ask for.

“We can’t wait to welcome you.”

The Black Stars’ training sessions run every Tuesday from 7-9pm at the Antonine Centre in Duntocher.

For more information and to sign up contact Robert on 07786 852099.