Sport and disability: the experience of the Southern Italy amputee football team

In this article we tell you more about an extraordinary day we spent with the amputee football team of ASD Fabrizio Miccoli. They are those days that can’t be forgotten because they instill determination, courage and the desire to do our best.

We took the opportunity of the Open Day, organized for the recruitment of new amputees interested in the world of football, and we spoke with Roberto Sodero, captain of the Southern Italy team, a very strong and friendly guy who gets interviewed under the hot sun at the end of August, immediately after his hard workout.

The story of the captain of the amputee football team

Although he’s very young, Roberto has already experienced difficulties and challenges in his life. Born with Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome, he needed amputation for stopping the continuous thrombophlebitis and fortunately in this way he started again to recover his autonomy.

However, Roberto is a great football fan, he always has been, and that’s why he decided he would play football, regardless of his amputation.

Football amputees: the rules of the game

“It’s football! Nothing more, nothing less”, this is his reply when we asked him the rules of this game for amputees.

Going into the technical detail, he explains to us that the amputee football requires that the players have one amputated leg, so that it doesn’t touch the ground and the goalkeepers don’t have the use of an arm and they cannot leave the penalty area.

At the international level, 7vs7 is played on a 60×40 meters field, but to encourage the formation of more teams, the FISPES (Italian Federation of Paralympic and Experimental Sports) has decreed that 5vs5 be played on a 45×25 meters field in the Italian championship.

It is the FISPES that in 2019 announces the first national amputee football championship, and Roberto is given the task of forming a team for Southern Italy. He immediately had the support of Fabrizio Miccoli to turn on this fantastic experience, and he started to search for his teammates.

It seems unthinkable that a physically demanding sport like football can be played with only one leg. But this story shows that it’s possible! This is the message that goes through seeing them playing with all their energies.

It happens thanks to the sport, “a very powerful weapon that educates respect and an exceptional educational tool. Sport teaches you to respect your teammates, to respect the rules and it teaches you to sacrifice yourself to achieve a goal.”

With this game Roberto first challenges himself, and then his opponents, and for this reason he thinks that sport for those with a disability can only help. It is a real therapy, because in many cases, especially for those who have suffered an amputation, sport becomes a new incitement, a place to get involved, grow and feel stronger.

A football team for inclusion

Especially football, which is a team sport, obliges, by its nature, to constantly relate to teammates and opponents, activating a process of self-confidence, as well as a way to accept and feel accepted “by taking the field” to best express their potential.

Also to overcome the limit of feeling accepted in society, the team experiences integrated football. The game becomes a mix between amputee athletes and soccer school athletes. It is wonderful to see how after the first 5-10 minutes of embarrassment the match becomes a real match and there aren’t any differences.

While we chat, the team continues the training. They were training intensely for the national championships held in Jesolo on September 12. You can see from their faces the passion for this sport and the desire to involve as many people as possible, in order to have numerous amputee football teams, and to allow anyone to practice this sport everywhere in Italy.

After this day spent with the team, we thank them for their friendliness, but above all for making us think about their experience: if they can play football with one leg, it dimostrates that there is a greater strength that allows us to never give up, despite any difficulties.

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