The Scottish Cup – the oldest knockout trophy in world football – made an unexpected appearance at Bayview Stadium as the Scottish FA brought the power of football to Fife in recognition of the Autism Football Association’s inaugural Scottish Cup.
At the world’s first tournament of its kind, the young Rangers side followed in the footsteps of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side – who won the Scottish Cup in 2022 – and claimed the same iconic Scottish Cup trophy.
The Scottish Football Association has supported autism charity Team United since its inception, with Scotland head coach Steve Clarke hosting a Zoom Q&A with the players involved during preparations for UEFA EURO 2020.
The charity aims to break down the social barriers that children and young adults with autism face while participating in sports.
Ten teams competed in the mini-tournament in Fife.
The Scottish Football Association’s strategic plan, The Power of Football, was developed to inspire the nation to transform lives and build a united game. By bringing the Scottish Cup to Bayview, the governing body is delivering on its promise to connect the diverse communities of Scottish football and encourage lifelong participation while breaking down barriers.
The competition was also organized under the auspices of Scottish Para Football – the world’s first national association affiliated with para football.
Scottish FA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell said: “Team United are an inspiration to all of us in Scottish football.
“The work done by Ann Brown and her team is incredible and I have been fortunate to see firsthand the positive impact the events and competitions have had on young people with autism and the families who support them.
“An extension of the Scottish Autism League, the Autism Football Association Scottish Cup offers young people with autism the opportunity to play the game they love in a safe space tailored to their needs. Soccer is a remarkable sport that can be a force good for society as a whole. That is the unifying principle of the Scottish Football Association’s Power Of Football strategy and I am delighted that it is being brought to life in Bayview in this way.”
Team United Football Development Manager Ann Brown added: “Just like organizing the Autism League, we didn’t know what to expect but we are thrilled with the success of this tournament. The kids had a blast and the presence of World Football’s Oldest Trophy was just that little bit extra that was needed to make the day one to remember.”
This isn’t the first time Team United have broken new ground, as the club are also responsible for launching the world’s first autism league in 2021. The day-long tournament featured two groups of five battling it out for the crown of becoming the first-ever Autism Cup champions.
Alongside the eventual winners were Rangers, Bonnyrigg Rose, Hibernian, Bayside, Dundee West, Greenock Morton, Murieston and three different Team United Selects.