Nepalese without arms and legs say playing sports builds self confidence
KATHMANDU - For the first time in the Himalayan country's history, amputees from Nepal participated in a national soccer tournament.
Under Para National Sports Championship 2075, the two-day event was organized by Amputee Sports Society Nepal on the grounds of St. Xavier's School in the capital on Friday and Saturday.
Challenging the general notion that amputees are physically and mentally weak, the participants confidently played soccer on a single-leg providing inspiration for other young amputees.
Three teams, Tribhuvan Army, Blue Mountain and Red Nepal participated in the tournament which was held according to international standard rules set by the World Amputee Football Federation.
"When people lose arms and legs due to accidents, they lose confidence along with a source of social exposure and entertainment. So, we organized this event to help them get back into society," said Madanman Singh Rokaya, president of Amputee Sports Society Nepal.
Rokaya, 32, who lost one leg at the age of six in his hometown of 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 a team to the international games in the future," Rokaya said of his plans.
Moving on metal crutches, the players dribbled and passed the ball without their prosthetics. Following the instructions of their coach, the players were able to score goals and enjoy the camaraderie.
Each team was comprised of five members each. The field players had lower extremity amputations while the goalkeepers had an upper extremity amputation.
According to the amputee players, they opted for sports, soccer in particular, for physical fitness, mental strength and as a way to boost self confidence.
Bipin Paudel, 25, captain of Red Nepal team, was busy warming up for the match and showing off his football skills.
"I have a huge fat stomach as there is no physical activity, so I thought soccer would be a perfect alternative to keep myself fit and healthy," he said.
At the finals held on Saturday, Paudel's team clinched the title by defeating the Tribhuvan Army Club in a 1-0 penalty shootout.
The young captain, 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 depending on the opponents' move. It was tough but, we did well," he said joyfully.
Amputee soccer 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 lasted for 50 minutes.
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, said: "We want to prove that even with a single leg, we can play well with high motivation."