On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we celebrate the Afghan footballers using sport to overcome landmine injuries with the help of the UEFA-ICRC partnership.
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Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities and we at UEFA would like to pay tribute to those players in Afghanistan who use their passion for football to fight back against landmine injuries. Their hard work, commitment to life and passion for football is commendable.
These players are being helped by the UEFA–International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) partnership. UEFA has been working with the ICRC, an independent neutral organisation ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war and armed violence, since 1997.
Football can help rebuild a broken body as well as self-esteem. And this is precisely what is happening in the six ICRC rehabilitation centres in Afghanistan, supported by UEFA.
Despite having lost an arm or leg to the war, or suffering reduced mobility due to illness, the players in Afghanistan refused to admit defeat. With the aid of the necessary healthcare and prosthetics, they stood up again, registered for their centre's football team and used the game to get back into shape, be part of something and score some goals.
Two of the players from the Kabul centre shared their moving testimonies:
Noor said: "I am 17 and a junior footballer. I lost my leg about four years ago – I was going to school when a bomb exploded in the street. I lost my hearing for a year too. I stopped going to school and my social life disappeared. The ICRC rehabilitation centre helped me to hear again. I also received an artificial leg and learned to walk again. Now I go to school and everyone is very happy in my family." Read the full testimony
Ramish said: "I am 21 and now an assistant trainer in the ICRC orthopaedic centre. I stepped on a mine playing with a kite in 2003. Being disabled was driving me crazy, I had no hope and I thought it was going to be the end.
Football totally changed my life. Now I am part of a team, I do what I like and I see a bright future ahead of me." Read the full testimony
By voting for your Team of the Year on UEFA.com, you will contribute to the ICRC programme for landmine victims and people with other disabilities in Afghanistan. Pick your favourite players in 2015 – and score a goal for the Red Cross.
Click on the video player above to meet young Afghans using football to fight back against landmines injuries.