Feature: Football provides glimmer of hope, confidence for Nepali amputees

by Shristi Kafle

KATHMANDU, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — For the first time in the Himalayan country’s history, amputees from Nepal participated in the national level football tournament.

Under Para National Sports Championship 2075, the two-day match was organized by Amputee Sports Society Nepal in the ground of St. Xaviers School in the capital on Friday and Saturday.

Challenging the general notion prevailed in conservative Nepali society that amputees are physically and mentally weak, the amputees confidently played football with a single-leg providing hope to the other young amputees.

Three teams Tribhuvan Army, Blue Mountain and Red Nepal participated in the tournament which was held as per the international standard rules set by World Amputee Football Federation.

“When people lose hands and legs due to accidents, they lose confidence along with source of exposure and entertainment. So, we organized this event to help them get back in the society,” Madanman Singh Rokaya, president of Amputee Sports Society Nepal, told Xinhua.

Rokaya, 32, who lost one leg at the age of six in the hometown Jumla, said that his organization plans to form new sports teams across the country in the coming days.

“We want to train the players and send our team in the international games in the future,” Rokaya shared his future plan.

Moving on their metal crutches, the players dribbled and passed the ball without their prosthesis. Following the instructions of their coach, the players were seen score goals and cheering up with each other.

A team comprised five members each in which outfield players had lower extremity amputations while the goalkeepers had an upper extremity amputation.

According to the amputee players, they opted for sports, football in particular, for physical fitness, mental strength and to boost self confidence.

Bipin Paudel, 25, captain of Red Nepal team, was busy warming up for the match and to show his football skills.

“I have huge fat in my stomach as there is no any physical activity, so I thought football would be a perfect alternative to keep self fit and healthy,” he told Xinhua.

At the finals held on Saturday, Paudel’s team clinched the title by winning over Tribhuvan Army Club with 1-0 penalty shoot-out.

The young footballer, who owns a stationary shop in the capital, said that its very difficult to manage the team. “I had to instruct players to move forward and back quickly as per the opponents’ move. It was tough but, we did well,” he said joyfully.

The amputee football is usually played on a pitch measuring a maximum of 70 by 60 meters. The players use crutches to play, however, they cannot use crutches to advance, control or block the ball.

The game was held for 50 minutes in total.

The participating players said football provides a glimmer of hope for many young people with amputations caused by accidents and other reasons.

A 45-year-old player Yak Prasad Shrestha, who works in the Nepal Army, said, “We want to prove that even with a single-leg, we can play well with high motivation.”

Among less than 50 audiences present, a former British Gorkha soldier and the double amputee Hari Bahadur Buda Magar was the one.

“I tried different sports but could never play football in my life. I believe sports will keep the people like us healthy and confident,” Magar, who plans to climb the world’s highest peak Qomolangma in 2020, told Xinhua.

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