Sunday December 04, 2022

Indonesia´s footless goalkeeper kicks home powerful message

April 04, 2018

INDRAMAYU, Indonesia: When Eman Sulaeman begged his parents to let him play football, the couple worried their young son — born with no feet and just one full leg — would be mocked.

But two decades later, the 30-year-old Indonesian goalkeeper is wowing crowds at home and abroad with his “cat-like” reflexes, and sending a powerful message about people with disabilities.“I cried for days, begging them (my parents) to buy me a ball,” he told AFP at a recent match in the small town of Indramayu, some 220 kilometres (135 miles) east of Jakarta.

“They relented and went out to find me a cheap plastic ball.”It hasn´t been easy for Sulaeman — a big fan of former Manchester United keeper Edwin Van Der Sar and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo — who had to train tirelessly to get where he is.

“I spent a long time learning to walk in balance before I was able to kick the ball,” he said.Sulaeman´s perseverance paid off, with friends asking him to join the local football team as he completed an electronic engineering degree.