Nearly every Saturday, parks all over Houston are known to host soccer matches for teams of all ages, nationalities and ability levels.
However, a recent match at Lents Family Park near The Woodlands featured both unique competitors and international implications, as the Lone Star Amputee Soccer Houston defeated the Haitian National Amputee Soccer team by a score of 6-3.
Making what most can’t do with all four limbs look easy, the exhibition match featured players who lost legs and goaltenders with one arms, and the rules prohibited use of prosthetic limbs or striking the ball with crutches.
The Lone Star side included able-bodied teens from the Houston Dynamo’s youth soccer academy to fill out their numbers, but the youngsters reportedly only played with their weaker leg.
Lone Star captain Robert Ferguson, who serves as the Southern Regional Representative of the American Amputee Soccer Association, said he organized the match.
The 16-year U.S. Air Force veteran’s record includes service in Korea and Afghanistan before losing his leg in 2009 during a training exercise at Fort Hood, about 70 miles north of Austin.
He told a Houston newspaper it became his goal to create an amputee youth soccer academy to help children with missing limbs after accident.
“It’s the most popular game in the world,” Ferguson said in an interview. “We just play it a bit differently. It’s 10 times harder than regular soccer, but we can go fast.”
Haitian player Fritz Vincent expressed his gratitude at the opportunity to play the most popular sport in the world at a competitive level, despite the loss of his right leg during the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country:
“Back in Haiti, when you are missing a limb, you are unwanted, pushed aside,” Vincent said in the interview. “But God blessed us and, with His blessing, we are able to play this game and see the world through it.”
Congrats to all of the players!