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Haitian amputee soccer players inspire others

Thursday, December 02, 2010

January marks one year since Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake. Many people were rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Several who survived lost limbs due to injuries they suffered. But they're finding a way to move on by playing soccer.

A soccer team full of Haitian amputees was in Pasadena on Thursday to show that their new disabilities aren't keeping them from competing.

It's a love that's continued after major changes in their lives -- the love of soccer. And these amputees are bringing their love of the game to the United States.

"If we can have 8 people or 10 people, that's enough for a team," one player said.

Players of the Haitian amputee soccer team are inspiring others, showing people in the Houston-area how to play. Their sport is a little different than regular soccer. Goalies are only allowed to have one arm. Other players are missing legs, and they use crutches to get around.

Players say the game is life-changing.

"You feel discouraged, see you no hope, no life. But now, I'm playing soccer. I feel more excited," a player said.

And it can be impressive for people who've never seen it before.

"They have no idea that somebody on a pair of crutches can move as fast as these guys are, how agile they are, how they can not only ambulate on crutches, but they can control a ball, they can score a goal," Dr. Fred Sorrells said.

Dr. Sorrells with the International Institute of Sport helped put the team together, and they're raising awareness of adaptive sports in the U.S.

"There's not an established amputee soccer program yet here in Texas, and so they're here to try and jump start it," he said.

The Haitian team competed in the Amputee World Cup.

Local players were able to get in the game to try it out. They say they've learned to not give up.

"No matter what's on the outside, people can still do it on the inside of their hearts," said Victor Meza, who's trying to learn how to play.

Here in the U.S., more than 20 million people have disabilities, but statistics show that only about 10 percent of them actually participate in sports.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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pasadena, local, tom abrahams
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