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Brighton and Hove Albion Amputee FC (BHAAFC) may be the newest disability team to wear the stripes but they are looking to upset the big guns this season as they join the England Amputee Football Association National League.

The squad only launched in April and were given a baptism of fire in their first ever game – a 4-0 friendly defeat to Arsenal on the American Express Community Stadium pitch.

Since then they have enjoyed a productive pre-season ahead of their debut campaign, but it...

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Brighton & Hove Albion Amputee FC looking forward to new season

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Brighton and Hove Albion Amputee FC (BHAAFC) may be the newest disability team to wear the stripes but they are looking to upset the big guns this season as they join the England Amputee Football Association National League.

The squad only launched in April and were given a baptism of fire in their first ever game – a 4-0 friendly defeat to Arsenal on the American Express Community Stadium pitch.

Since then they have enjoyed a productive pre-season ahead of their debut campaign, but it is clear that first friendly match had a big impact on the players.

Chris Emmett played in that game against Arsenal and said: “It was a learning curb really because we spent most of the game in awe of the team.

“They’ve been together for a very long time. Some of them have been playing for 14 years so they are very experienced which allowed them to know exactly what to do and how to play as a team.”

But despite the scoreline, the experience of playing at the Seagulls’ stadium was overwhelmingly positive.

“It was incredible,” continued Emmett. “When you’re coming out of that tunnel the feeling you get is unexplainable. It was just a surreal experience.”

Playing such a talented Arsenal team also gave the Albion a glimpse of what they needed to work on in training.

Danny Hemsley, who also played in that debut game and has become a key figure in the Albion squad, said: “We are doing a lot of work on tactics but fitness is crucial. We need to be able to go the distance to challenge the top teams in our division.”

Brighton have certainly been thrown in at the deep end this season. The Seagulls will meet the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton but Emmett and Hemsley’s teammate Paul Dilley was remaining optimistic despite their relative inexperience.

“If we can manage to not finish bottom I think it will be a great season,” he said. “We are the newest team obviously so everyone expects that to happen but we are hoping we can surprise a few people.

“It is really great team to be a part of. Our squad is growing as well. We should have about 14 players in our team come next season which puts us in a great position for seven-a-side games.

“You get to know one another and each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I think the more we get exposed to that the more we will develop as a team.”

BHAAFC, who have been sponsored by the club’s match day travel operator Seagull Travel, have already shown significant improvement from that first game – narrowly losing a subsequent fixture with the same Arsenal team on penalties.

Their attention is now firmly fixed on 20 November and season-opening games with Arsenal, Peterborough and Portsmouth.

For more information on BHAAFC, email: disability@albioninthecommunity.org.uk.

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