One-legged Egyptian football players aim for their own league

Published: January 2, 2018
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Members of "Miracle Team", a soccer team made up of one-legged, crutch-bearing soccer players, listen to their coach before a training session at El Salam club on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt December 29, 2017.
PHOTO: REUTERS

Members of "Miracle Team", a soccer team made up of one-legged, crutch-bearing soccer players, listen to their coach before a training session at El Salam club on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt December 29, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO: A group of Egyptian football players have formed a team for one-legged players, hoping to start a league for disabled players in the country.

“The Miracle Team,” consists of 25 players from across Egypt who meet twice a week to train in Cairo. While the team began training in freestyle football, they soon decided to aim higher.

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“I started bringing people in and our team coach Yousry [Mohamed Ibrahim] called me to start training me on freestyle football,” team captain Mahmoud Ibrahim Tawfik, who lost a leg in a road accident more than 20 years ago, told Reuters. “I told him I dream of becoming a competitive football player, not just a freestyle footballer who has skills.”

The team hopes to inspire other disabled Egyptians to take up the sport and eventually establish a federation that could regulate a domestic league for the disabled.

“In each governorate, we are asking the players to form a team to spread the game,” said Ibrahim.

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Despite their enthusiasm, the team faces a raft of challenges: a lack of funding, a paucity of special playing crutches and difficulties finding a regular pitch for training.

Amputee football has special rules: seven leg-amputee players play on each opposing team, and the goalkeepers must have one arm. Crutches are not allowed to touch the ball and there is no offside rule or limits to substitutions.

There are 42 nations who have national amputee football federations, according to the World Amputee Football Federation. The next amputee football World Cup is being held in Mexico later this year.

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