We had the Euros, then the Olympics and now it’s time for 11 young footballers to represent the United Kingdom at the Medtronic Junior Cup (in association with JDRF).
What makes this squad so special is that every player has first-hand experience of living with type 1 diabetes and is determined not to let it interfere with their love for the game.
Over 120 young people with type 1 diabetes applied for the opportunity to take part, and 55 were selected to attend a qualification event in Wembley Stadium. They got to show off their skills, impress FA coaches and meet other young footballers with type 1 - check out this Youtube video to see some of the talent on show.
11 players were selected to make up the elite team and will represent the United Kingdom at Lausanne’s Olympic Stadium in Switzerland on 25-26 August 2012. We have created a 'Meet the Medtronic United Kingdom team' webpage so you can find out more about the lucky 11 footballers, and the journeys they have been on to get to this stage.
Paul McMullan, 16, knows only too well how the players will be feeling, as he was part of the 2010 United Kingdom team who clinched the winning cup. Paul was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 12 and thought that his football career was over. He is a shining example of how you can control type 1 diabetes instead of letting it control you. Paul now plays professional football for Celtic under 20s and also represents Scotland in the under 17s team.
Paul told us:
'My passion has always been football – I used to eat sleep and breathe it. I’ve played for Celtic for many years and my dream was to play professionally. I was devastated when I was diagnosed with type 1, as I thought that was it. You soon begin to understand the condition and learn how to manage it and I haven’t looked back since. It’s such an amazing experience to play for Celtic and Scotland and I wish the team the best of luck and hope they score some cracking goals.'
Karen Addington, CEO of JDRF who has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 30 years, said:
'What a year for the United Kingdom and now we have 11 wonderful teenagers doing themselves, their families and everyone at JDRF extremely proud. Having type 1 myself, I know it can sometimes be a frustrating time for teens, as you can’t always do what your friends do and have to constantly carb-count. Well done to all the team, you will be great!'
JDRF wish the Medtronic United Kingdom team the best of luck, and look forward to letting you know how we did in the final next week!