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One-legged footballers in Egypt aspire to a league of their own

One-legged footballers in Egypt aspire to a league of their own

Egypt

More than twenty years after losing a leg in a road accident, Mahmoud Tawfik feels closer to realising his dream of becoming a football player.

The 28-year old, who gained fame after a photograph of him jumping on the pitch celebrating Egypt’s World Cup qualification went viral last year, is now captain of Egypt’s first amputee football team.

Twenty-five players from different parts of the country gather twice a week to train on a pitch in Cairo, aiming to eventually become Egypt’s first recognised professional amputee football team.

I started bringing the people in and Coach Yousry, the team coach, called me to start training me on freestyle football.

Though complaining of limited access to playgrounds and pitches, the team eyes up spreading the ‘beautiful game’ in Egypt to the disabled. They want to establish a local federation which could regulate a domestic league for the disabled.

“I started bringing the people in and Coach Yousry, the team coach, called me to start training me on freestyle football. I told him I have another dream of becoming a real life football player not just a freestyle footballer who has skills,” said Team Captain, Mahmoud Ibrahim Tawfik.

Twenty-five players from different parts of the country gather twice a week to train on a pitch in Cairo, aiming to eventually become Egypt’s first recognised professional amputee football team.

I started bringing the people in and Coach Yousry, the team coach, called me to start training me on freestyle football.

Though complaining of limited access to playgrounds and pitches, the team eyes up spreading the ‘beautiful game’ in Egypt to the disabled.

Team coach Yousry Ibrahim said they had players from different parts such as Alexandria and Monofeya. Adding that in each governorate, they are asking players to make a team to spread the game. Secondly they went to the Paralympic Committee, and they were extremely receptive.

Despite their optimism, the team faces daily financial challenges, a lack of special playing crutches as well as having difficulties finding a regular pitch for training.

“We are moving in steps depending on the capabilities we have. The pitches are difficult [to reserve]. The youth centres ban anyone from training, except for academies that are already present. We face difficulties in reserving a pitch and training. This is what we need in upcoming period that the pitches are facilitated more,” said Ibrahim.

The rules for Amputee Football differ from Association Football with seven leg-amputee players on each opposing team, the goalie has to have only one arm. Crutches are not allowed to touch the ball and there are no offsides or limits to substitutions.

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