Fasil was born with limitations. But his passion for football beats them all
KOCHI: For Fasil, getting to play with his comrades has always been a luxury. He was born with a bent on his left leg and without a right foot. But the Malapuram-native wasn’t ready to give up and spend his life cooped up at home. Within a year after he was born, Fasil underwent three surgeries - twice for the left leg, and once for the right.
“Before surgery, my right foot was just a bag of bones without any flesh, whereas the left leg had an abnormal bent. For a year, I didn’t walk, as part of the treatment, I had to wear a bandage. Now my right foot has flesh and my left leg is slightly crooked, with four toes,” says Fasil. Fast forward to now, the 20-year-old has played several football matches in his area.
Seeing his friends and neighbours play football gradually developed an interest in the game in Fasil’s head too. He was the happiest when he was watching them play. The intensity of the game caught on to him and he even tiptoed out of his house to participate in matches.
“My parents were hesitant to let me play. They were scared I would fall or get hurt. So I used to take an extra pair of clothes and change before heading home so my parents won’t know I was playing,” he quips.
For ten years, Fasil couldn’t walk without a foot supporter. He even had to wear them while sleeping. Initially, he used to play barefoot, with one leg. “It started causing severe injuries. So I began wearing shoes. But since my feet is disoriented, they would get loose while playing. Now I play with both legs,” he beams.
Fasil’s passion helped him overcome all odds. The ardent player began to play with boots and support equipment that is supposed to help him walk. “My ankles won’t rotate. This makes the support gear even stiffer when I am walking or running fast. If I run too fast, the corners will poke my skin. I wear boots over the supporter and no pair lasts me for more than a month,” says Fasil. His supporters also won’t last for more than eight months. The continuous game wears off its fabric and they begin to fall apart. “I try to fix the parts by attaching screws. When the steel screw starts hurting my skin, I replace the supporter. A pair costs me over Rs 7,000.
Against all odds
Though his right leg is two inches shorter than his left, with continuous practice and by seeking advice from professionals, Fasil has come a long way. “Earlier, my passes and shoots were never accurate. Now I can do them better, though my ankles are stiff. Since my left leg leans to the side, I can block a defender and strike a goal. I consider this disability a boon now,” says Fasil.
His interest in football made Fasil want to receive professional training from the best coaches. However, his slim financial background didn’t allow him to act upon this dream. When FC Kerala’s manager Stephen spotted Fasil’s game, he invited the young lad to join the FC Kerala Soccer school under a Talent scholarship.
“So far, I have only played amateur seven-member matches. Now I’ll get to play 11’s,” says Fasil excitedly. He aspires to continue as a professional football player while also landing a job.