Writes: Edward Perry
Lib [Elizabeth] Aitcheson is departing the England Amputee Football Association after three years as Head of Medical Services for the Men’s national team.
Lib's time with England culminated in a historic Nations League victory, the team’s first major trophy since 1990. However, it’s her hard work and dedication to leading the medical and sports science department that hasn’t gone unnoticed - having since left the EAFA in a position to continue this development.
Before joining the charity, Lib completed a Masters in Sports Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire straight after graduating. Having worked in a number of elite environments as a physiotherapist at the likes of Preston North End FC Academy and Manchester United U23 before operating as the Venue Medical Manager at The Island Games in Gibraltar, her time with EAFA has only been a huge benefit to both.
A social media post from a connection at Chelsea FC, a club the 26-year-old had aspirations of working for, led to Elizabeth fulfilling England’s need for a physio during the European Championships, “I guess they couldn’t get rid of me after that!” She joked.
Her first tournament was a crash course in amputee football, “I think the European Championships was not necessarily a shock to the system, but I’d never seen amputee football live,” said Aitcheson.
She added: “I had been to one single camp beforehand, so I got thrown right in at the deep end. I was like oh my gosh, this is incredible.
"The level, the standard and bio-mechanically how well the boys move on the crutches, I couldn’t believe the level of football that they were playing."
Working at North End and Manchester United, Lib’s been involved in various team environments, each with its own individual uniqueness, but she’s confident that the culture evolved at EAFA is up there with the best.
“I think all these teams, they all adopt similar cultures. But I’d say the culture here at England is one of the strongest that I’ve seen for togetherness and belonging. It’s probably why I’ve served for so long and enjoyed being part of the team,” said the UCLan alumni.
Lib’s aspiration of one day working for Chelsea soon became a reality after she secured a position in the academy, once again this experience could only benefit the national team.
“At Chelsea, they had the standards of professionalism and what they expect. That was one that I really took away and tried to implement into the England programme.”
The buy-in from the players has been important for implementing the work from the department and Lib has thoroughly enjoyed working alongside them. “The boys are incredible individuals and human beings and I think it’s a gift to be able to come and work with them. The players give so much time and really invest in themselves to play football.
“To watch them be able to play and do something that they truly love, it’s just so incredible. They’re a very talented bunch. The way they’ve progressed in the time I’ve been here, they’re a team to watch out for.
"If they keep going with the attitude they possess and give all the heart they do to progress, I’m sure they’ll do well and add to that Nations League triumph.”
Three years and many tournaments later, for Elizabeth to choose one particular stand-out moment would certainly be a struggle.
"The first European Championships that I went to in 2021 was incredible and that’s definitely up there,” she said.
“But then also getting a World Cup under my belt as well as the Nations League and to go on and win that - being recognised as the first team to beat Turkey in open play since 2012 was magical.”
Lib’s time in the sun may be up, but she’ll always be a valued member of The EAFA family and we wish her all the best in the future.