Indonesia’s footless goalkeeper kicks home powerful message

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.

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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.”

Sulaeman’s fans came out in force at a recent match at a local court for futsal — a five-a-side game played on a hard pitch with hockey-sized goals and a less bouncy ball.

They snapped pictures and cheered as Sulaeman protected his net by shifting quickly on stumps and his one leg — the other limb is missing from the knee down.

Cheers turned into a roar as he kicked the ball into the back of the other team’s net, capping off a win for his side.

Young fans waited for a selfie with their hero.

“He is very inspiring,” said 18-year-old Muhammad Faisal Bahri.

AFP

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