“One step at a time. You have to play the team on front of you. If you look ahead, you’ll only fall backwards. We can dream about the Final, but the team on front of us tomorrow can end that dream”.
Aaron Tier has starred in Ireland’s campaign at the 2018 IFCPF European Championships in the Netherlands. On Wednesday evening, the team defeated the hosts to finish on top of Group A. That result means that World Champions Ukraine await in the Semi-Finals on Friday afternoon.
Tier’s route to Ireland’s Cerebral Palsy squad has been far from simple. The 23-year-old who described himself as “never the smartest kid” cites joining Ireland’s CP team as the catalyst in getting back into education. This culminated in graduation from Limerick IT with a BA in Business Studies and Sports Management.
“I’ve come from a socially disadvantaged area. Education was never a priority. Football opened up my ideas and aspirations for where I can truly get to. We’re limited by our potential because we cannot see it. Education can go a long way. It’s been a passport of opportunities for myself.”
With four wins from four in the European Championships, Tier says the confidence has never been higher.
“Our self belief and are ability in taking one step at a time has paid off. This week is the stuff of what dreams of made of. I believe we can go up another gear against Ukraine. We have the self-drive and determination to overcome adversity.
“We see this team as the boundary breakers. We don’t fear anyone. We want to showcase to the world that anything is possible, in terms of ability, disability and social background.
“The team will leave everything on the pitch against Ukraine. It won’t be just for our country, but for ourselves as well.”
Tier comes from Island Road area on Limerick and began his career at Star Rovers. He claims the opportunities gained in his home city have made him into the person he is today.
“As a young kid, I grew up playing football on the streets. I’m grateful for what my community provided me and the opportunities that came from it.”
The players in Ireland’s CP team come from around the country. Despite coming from different backgrounds, Tier counts his teammates as “family”.
“We’ve really shared a common connection. I don’t think you would find that anywhere else. We’re different in this day, but different in a good way.”
Although Ireland go into Friday’s game as underdogs, Tier knows the team won’t lie down.
“These are the games you want to be involved in. Going in as underdogs is giving us added motivation. Nothing is holding us back. We have no fear.”
Ireland v Ukraine takes place on Friday afternoon at 3pm. The winners will play either Russia or the Netherlands in Sunday’s Final. You will be able to watch the match live here.
Ireland’s Cerebral Palsy team is co-funded by the FAI, Paralympics Ireland and Sport Ireland.