In Summary
  • Ibrahim Khattab, 13, lost his left foot during the 2014 war.

In fluorescent orange jerseys, footballers manoeuvred across the artificial turf of a pitch in the Gaza Strip - leaning on their metal crutches for support.

"Today I can continue to play football," said Islam Amum, 27.

He used to be a goalkeeper, until he lost a leg in an Israeli air strike during the 2014 Gaza war.

Amum is one of 15 members of the only amputee football squad in the Gaza Strip. Aged from 16 to 40, they train every Monday afternoon in Deir el-Balah, in the centre of the coastal enclave.

They even have their own team song circulating on social media, captain Mohammed Juifel said proudly.

"Our anthem explains that the handicapped are part of society, including in football," says Juifel, 21, whose right leg was amputated after a car crash when he was 13.

Abd al-Majid Abu Milak, 25, lost his hand in an Israeli shell blast.

"The training is difficult but fun," he said. "I feel like a goalie who can compete."

Every day the players exercise in a room reserved for them at the Deir el-Balah association for the handicapped.

The team owes its inception to Fuad Abu Ghaliun, a 62-year-old member of the Palestinian parliament.

"I got the idea of forming this team by watching a football match between Turkish and British amputees at the end of last year," he said.

"Then I thought I could make a dream come true for hundreds of amputees in Gaza."

He labelled the squad "the team of heroes" and said he hoped to form a local disabled league and one day join football's world governing body Fifa.


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