The tournament will feature eight teams, including squads from current World Champion Brazil, England, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and of course the host USA. The eight competitors have been broken into two groups of four with England, Georgia, Moldova and Russia competing in Group A, and the USA, Brazil, Ukraine and Uzbekistan battling in Group B. Brazil won the 1999 Amputee Soccer Championship in Kiev, Ukraine, defeating Russia 1-0 in a thrilling final that saw Russia allow their first and only goal of the tournament. For more details and action photos see www.ampsoccer.org/kiev/.
Amputee soccer was organized in the Seattle area by Bill Barry back in 1980. Not an amputee himself, his passion for the sport has made him a force behind its emergence on the international front (traveling abroad, helping countries organize teams, etc.). Barry has presided over all the U.S. based tournaments since the inaugural Amputee Soccer Championships were played in the U.S. in 1986. The tournament remained in the U.S. through 1990, before being staged in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 1991. After a short hiatus because of political strife in some of the major competing countries, the tournament was again staged in 1998 in England and in 1999 in Kiev, Ukraine. With the sport celebrating its 20-year anniversary, Seattle was honored with the selection of this year's games.
Matches are played between teams of not more than 7 players, one of whom shall be a goalkeeper. Field players are leg amputees and goalkeepers are arm amputees. The wearing of prosthetic devices is not allowed. Field players use forearm crutches and are not permitted to play, control, or direct the ball with their non-playing limb. While the goalkeeper may dive to the ground with his playing arm spread, he may not dive feet first and may not leave the goal area during the match. Play of the ball is not permitted by any residual limbs or crutches. Each game consists of two 25-minute halves.
The Amputee Soccer World Championship 2000 preliminary rounds will be held November 14, 2000 through November 16, 2000 at Arena Sports in Seattle. Four matches will be played each day, on the hour, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The semifinals are scheduled for November 17 at the Seattle Mercer Area. A consolation match will be played at 6 p.m., followed by the two top finishers in each bracket facing off in games at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Medal Round will be held Saturday November 18 at the Seattle Mercer Arena, as well. A consolation match will be featured at 12 p.m. followed by the Bronze Medal Game at 1 p.m. and the Gold Medal Game at 2 p.m. Following the conclusion of the games, medals will be awarded and The Shurgard Most Valuable Player Award will be presented. Closing Ceremonies will conclude the tournament.
In addition to team captain, Dan Broome, the U.S. team features Robert Spotswood, an 18-year-old player who lost his leg in a car accident just two years ago. Spotswood scored a number of goals for the U.S. in his international debut in Kiev, Ukraine in 1999. Robert had been a youth soccer standout in Alabama prior to his accident. (For more on his story please see www.activeamp.org/month/rookie5.htm.)
Another U.S. standout is Farah Aden, who came to the U.S. from his native Somalia in Africa when he was a teenager. Aden was hit by a bullet when he was 12-years-old while playing soccer. He and his family were forced from their home the same day he was shot, seeking refuge and medical treatment in another city. Aden arrived in the United States in 1995.
This year's tournament would not be possible without the generous financial support of the United States Soccer Foundation. The United States Soccer Federation, Washington State Soccer Association and the Washington State Youth Soccer Association have diligently worked together to present this prestigious event in Seattle.
"Although the competition is fierce, there is obviously more to this event than just winning," said Thomas Feller, Executive Director of the U.S. Amputee Soccer Association. "It is a family that has the opportunity to come together for a tournament. Vietnam vets and Afghanistan vets, men and women, old and young ... to bridge many a gap, whether it be geographical, race, gender, disabled, able, whatever."
For more information on the tournament, contact Robin Gordon at the WSSA at 425-485-7855.