Pat Nevin has hailed Scottish Gas PARA Football Festivals as key to making football ‘more inclusive than ever’ – and stated his wish they had existed when his own son was growing up.

The former Scotland international was the special guest at the latest of 48 PARA Football Festivals taking place across the season as part of a link-up between Scottish Gas and the Scottish FA which is also funding 120 free football camps.

More than 1,000 disabled people have been engaged by the sessions, which run in conjunction with clubs across Scotland, and youngsters at Partick Thistle were thrilled by the ex-Chelsea winger’s presence.

Nevin, who represented Clyde, Kilmarnock and Motherwell during his spells playing in his home country, appeared alongside the legendary Scottish Gas Scottish Cup trophies ahead of the men’s and women’s finals in May.

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Half of the player mascots at those showpiece occasions are set to be selected from Scotland’s PARA football community – the first time a sponsor has created equal representation for disabled participants at the finals.

Nevin said: “Football is for everyone, so it’s fantastic that festivals like this across the country are catering for a range of different disabilities.

“My son is autistic and he loves the game, but we were missing opportunities like this when he was growing up, so it’s brilliant to see Scottish Gas working with the Scottish FA to help make the sport more inclusive than ever.”

Celtic will play Rangers in an Old Firm match-up in the Scottish Gas Men’s Scottish Cup final on May 25, with Rangers taking on Hearts in the women’s final the following day. Both matches will be played at Hampden Park.

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