CAIRO, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Ahmed Mohammed's dream to become a professional footballer vanished as he lost his left leg 11 years ago in a road accident. However, the 30-year-old man is now running on the green pitch again thanks to the efforts of Egypt's first football academy for amputees.
"I had been chosen to play as a defender in a local football club before the accident, but losing my leg brought all my dream to be a footballer to an end," Mohammed told Xinhua during a training session at the Cairo-based Samir and Omar Football Academy for Amputees.
After the accident, Mohammed used an artificial limb and tried to play football again as a hobby.
A year ago, Samir and Ali Academy, which meant a window of hope, was established not only for Mohammed but also for tens of amputee footballers across the North African country.
"Joining the academy gave me a big boost. I am now striving to improve my skills so that I can join a club and play professionally," he said.
In addition to rehabilitating and training one-legged footballers, the academy seeks to establish Egypt's first professional league for amputees.
"We are in contact with professional football clubs to have their own amputee teams in order to establish a federation and a professional league, which, according to the Egyptian law, requires six teams," Sarah Samir, founder of the academy, told Xinhua.
"So far, three clubs have agreed to set up teams of amputees while we are still negotiating with other clubs," Samir added.
Samir, a businesswoman from Cairo, revealed that the academy started in January 2022 with only 30 players, and it is currently enrolled with 120 players aged from 11 to 30.
"I decided to establish the academy after the success achieved by the Egyptian one-leg national team during its first participation in a regional African championship in Tanzania in 2021. They ranked seventh out of 15 teams during the tournament. These young men really deserve support, and we will continue to back them," Samir stressed.
When he lost his left leg in a car accident two years ago, 11-year-old Eid Mohammed was psychologically traumatized. However, training in the academy highly inspired him.
Using his metal crutches, Mohammed moved with great force and determination, passing the ball accurately to his teammates.
"Here I learn that nothing is impossible. I challenge to prove that people with disabilities can do what sound people can do," said Mohammed, the youngest player in the academy.
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. ■