Mohamed Wael (R) of Pyramids football club vies during a football match between Pyramids and Arab Contractors of the first edition of amputee football league in Cairo, Egypt, on March 10, 2023. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
CAIRO, March 12 (Xinhua) -- A dream of all Egyptian amputee footballers has come true as the country's first professional football league for the disabled kicked off in the capital Cairo on Friday.
During a big ceremony, the Egyptian Paralympic Committee announced the launch of the first edition of the amputee football league, with the participation of four prominent local clubs.
Hossam al-Din Mostafa, head of the Egyptian Paralympic Committee, told Xinhua during the inauguration ceremony that the league is currently composed of four clubs, namely the Arab Contractors, Zamalek, Pyramids, and Z Club.
"We started with these four famous clubs and I expect that next season will witness the participation of at least 10 clubs," the Egyptian official said.
The season splits into halves, Mostafa explained, adding that the tournament will enable the committee to select the national team players who will play in the African Cup of Nations for Amputee Football, which is to be held in Egypt in October.
Mostafa thanked those who helped achieve this goal, mainly the Cairo-based Samir and Omar Football Academy for Amputees, which provided the four clubs with the majority of their players.
"I still cannot believe that we have an official football league for amputees now," Sarah Samir, founder of the academy, told Xinhua.
"These players have worked hard and incessantly to make this reality happen," She noted, adding the next step will be forming a football federation for amputee football, which, according to Egyptian law, requires six teams to join the league.
Amputee footballers attend a training session at the Cairo-based Samir and Omar Football Academy for Amputees in Cairo, Egypt, on Jan. 13, 2023.(Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
Zaher Mohammed, a 24-year-old player with Pyramids Clubs, told Xinhua that "I have been waiting for this moment for more than six years, and I'm very proud to be one of the players who participated in the first edition of the professional league."
Zaher, a striker, said that he and his teammates are working hard to make history by winning the first edition of the league.
According to the rules of amputee football, outfield players may have two hands but only one leg, whereas goalkeepers may have two feet but only one hand.
Players may not use crutches to advance, control or block the ball, or it will be counted as a foul against their team.
Each team is composed of seven players and changes are allowed during the 50-minute match that is divided into two halves. ■