Football: Egyptian amputees have big dreams with plans to set up a domestic league

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Team captain Mahmoud Tawfik, 28, kicks the ball during a training session. PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO (REUTERS) - A group of Egyptian football players have formed a team for one-legged players, hoping to start league for disabled players in the country.

"The Miracle Team," consists of 25 players from across Egypt who meet twice a week to train on a pitch in Cairo.

While the team began training in freestyle football - a non-competitive art where players perform tricks with a ball - they soon decided to aim higher.

"I started bringing the people in and (team) coach Yousry (Mohamed Ibrahim) called me to start training me on freestyle football," team captain Mahmoud Ibrahim Tawfik, who lost a leg in a road accident more than 20 years ago, told Reuters.

"I told him I have another dream of becoming a real life soccer player, not just a freestyle footballer who has skills."

The team hope to inspire other disabled Egyptians to take up the sport and eventually establish a federation which could regulate a domestic league for the disabled.

"In each governorate, we are asking the players to form a team to spread the game," said Yousry.

Despite their enthusiasm, the team faces a raft of challenges: a lack of funding, a paucity of special playing crutches and difficulties in finding a regular pitch for training.

Amputee football has special rules: seven leg-amputee players play on each opposing team, and the goalkeepers must have one arm.

Crutches are not allowed to touch the ball and there is no offside rule or limits to substitutions.

There are 42 nations who now have national amputee football federations, according to the World Amputee Football Federation.

The next amputee football World Cup is being held in Mexico later this year.

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