LONDON — The beautiful game was exactly that as amputee footballers took to a pitch in the heart of the city to challenge the men who made their prosthetics.
Players on both sides of the field share a deep passion for the game Americans call soccer, and a deep respect for what their opponents have done. Three of the men on the field lost limbs to the game they love, and feel a debt of gratitude to the prosthetists who helped them keep playing. James Catchpole, who organizes an amputee team based in north London and in this game played for the amputees’ “all-star” team the LA Spurs, sees the game against the Roehampton Prosthetists as a win-win.
“In a way, it reflects badly on them if we lose,” he said. “It will mean they haven’t supplied us with good enough legs.”
Amputee football is growing in the United Kingdom, with teams popping up from East Anglia to Sheffield to Cardiff. Dean Heffer, sports officer for the Limbless Association, wants to get the British game in line with the internationally recognized version of amputee football, then establish a British team. The goal is to see amputee football recognized as a Paralympic sport.