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How amputee football is thriving in Kano

In recent years, amputee football has witnessed a significant advancement, garnering global recognition and support. In this sport, talented young individuals who are physically challenged…

In recent years, amputee football has witnessed a significant advancement, garnering global recognition and support. In this sport, talented young individuals who are physically challenged demonstrate that those presumed to have disabilities require only half the limbs of regular footballers to score goals.

A team comprises six outfield amputee footballers playing with one leg, aided by special crutches, and one goalkeeper who uses one hand. The pitch and goal dimensions are typically smaller than those in regular football, and players face penalties for touching the ball with their crutches.

At the past two editions of the National Para Games, the Kano State team has produced numerous exceptional amputee footballers, who showcased their skills. In the 2023 semi-finals, Kano State defeated Lagos 2-1, securing a consecutive finals spot against the Kwara State Amputee football team. Kano State triumphed over defending champions Kwara State 3-0, clinching the gold medal.

Consequently, five members of the Kano team – Isah Yusuf, Friday Abu, Rabilu Yahaya, Abba Musa, and Usman Hotoro – earned spots on the national Amputee football team, with their coach, El-Amin Muhammad now serving as the assistant national team coach.

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Coach Muhammad who spoke to Trust Sports expressed their dedication to promoting amputee football globally, preparing for the national camp, and aiming to represent the country at the Amputee Football Nations Cup in Egypt in April 2024.

“We are here to show our love of the game among the amputees all over the world. We are preparing for the national camp in three weeks coming either to Lagos or Abuja. Among us are many special players who have been called up along with me to the national team.

amputee football is thriving in kano
amputee football is thriving in kano

“We have our sight set on representing the country at the Amputee Football Nations Cup to be held in Egypt on April 16 2024 and we hope to make the country proud.”

The thriving amputee football team in Kano State exemplifies the power of inclusivity in sports. Despite facing physical challenges, players unite to showcase their skills and love for the sport.

The two-time Most Valuable Player of the Amputee football event at the National Para Games, Isa Yusuf, shared how his passion for football led him to play and even coach others. He emphasised his commitment to becoming a professional amputee football player, supporting those with and without disabilities.

Isa Yusuf

“Growing up, I have always played football among able bodied people at Rijiyar Lemo Yan Mata area at a pitch called FC Porto. While playing, I always give my best like someone with two legs. I have been involved as a football coach with the FC Porto team at Rijiyar Lemo for 10 years.

“When I came across this Amputee football game at Kano Pillars stadium in Sabon Gari, I became impressed. I was a bit sceptical about going to join but some of the FC Porto players encouraged me that they believe I will do well. I have always put in my best since I started playing.

“I have not yet played for the national team but I was the highest goal scorer at the 2022 National Para Games when I scored 5 goals. At the 2023 games in Abuja I scored 4 goals. At a zonal championship in Lagos, I was the best player and highest goal scorer.

“I was recently invited to the national team, presently we are even preparing our passports and we shall be leaving for camp soon. I am optimistic that I will be selected to represent the country in Egypt at the Africa Amputee Football Nations Cup.

“I aspire to become a professional Amputee football player and to play in several countries around the world. I want to have what it takes to support both people like me and even those without disabilities because times are hard. That is why I always give my best so I can become successful.”

Despite challenges such as the physical demands of the game and the need for specialized equipment, Isa said he and other athletes had to persevere. Recognition and call-ups to the national team validate their efforts.

“Our main challenge is that this game is quite tasking physically and we need some things like shoes and crutches. We transport ourselves to training. The pair of crutches I use to play which is quite different from the regular one costs about N8,000 to N20,000. I have been using mine for two years now.

“Another sour experience I had was when we were in a critical situation at the National para games in Abuja last year. We left Kano at 11pm and arrived at the competition late only to go straight into playing without eating. However, we put in our best to come back home with the gold medal.”

Friday Abu

Friday Abu, another player, expressed excitement about being called up to the national team and highlighted the positive impact of the game on his life and prospects.

“I have been playing this game for two years and I am always excited to play. I am delighted to be called up to the national team. I will give my best as I always do.”

“When playing football we feel special and know that we don’t have to go about begging for money. This game has helped me to be sure that my future is going to be bright”.

The confidence oozed by Friday and other players of diverse backgrounds and experiences are part of a rich tapestry of stories that extend far beyond the football pitch.

Former Director of Sports at the Kano State Sports Commission, Dr Bashir Maizare believes Amputee football has become a powerful tool for empowerment in Kano State, offering players a platform to overcome physical challenges and excel in a competitive environment.

“Although these are people with necessary needs from society, the game proves that football is not only for the able-bodied people. Everybody participates in football.

“Talking of the recent successes, if you remember at the para-games in 2022 our amputee football team did very well but lost to Kwara state at that time.

“Last December in Abuja we played against Kwara again in the final but this time around we beat them 3 goals to nil to win the gold medal for Kano state. That particular gold medal was very important as it raised Kano to third position overall.”

“The importance of this game is that people of nature feel good about themselves once they are representing the state or the country. So we appeal to the government, and philanthropists to always support this sport in any way they can.”

Without a doubt, increased awareness and inclusion efforts have contributed to improved opportunities for amputee athletes to pursue their passion and succeed in the sport.

However, challenges such as limited resources and accessibility issues persist, highlighting the ongoing need for continued support and advocacy.

For now, the sport which is gradually warming its way into the hearts of sports lovers in the country is thriving in Kano and its environs.

 

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