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Mexico’s amputee players train for their own cup

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WE TOO CAN:In an event of a different kind, players who lost limbs in accidents or to diseases are gearing up to take part in the Amputee World Cup. In this picture, Los Dragones finds the net against Guerreros Aztecas on Saturday.— PHOTO: AP
WE TOO CAN:In an event of a different kind, players who lost limbs in accidents or to diseases are gearing up to take part in the Amputee World Cup. In this picture, Los Dragones finds the net against Guerreros Aztecas on Saturday.— PHOTO: AP

Two football World Cups will be held this year and members of Mexico City’s Aztec Warriors are training tirelessly with the dream of playing in one of them.

Players race across the field on special crutches, dribbling and kicking fierce shots at the net. Their goal is The Amputee Soccer World Cup, which will be held in Culiacan, Sinaloa, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 8.

Most of the players lost a leg in car accidents or to disease. One player, Niseforo Bazan, lost a limb to a stray bullet in Guerrero. The goaltender is missing an arm.

Some team members play while still fighting to overcome health issues. Alejandro Balurch, 17, had a leg amputated because of cancer two years ago and now practices as much as his chemotherapy will allow.

“We want to show that there are no barriers or limitations to attaining what one desires,” said Aztec Warriors’ coach Carlos Espinosa.

Before the start of each game, players remove the artificial legs they use, playing only with crutches and kicking the ball with their remaining foot.

Espinosa said the players are practicing hard in the hopes that some of them will be chosen to join Mexico’s national amputee team that will play in Sinaloa. — AP

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