The football school promoting inclusion

Twice a week, children with disabilities get together to play football without fear of being judged
The football school promoting inclusion
Child playing football – File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
Claudia González
State of Mexico
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Obed Aguilar Solórzano is the founder of the first Football Center for Physical Fitness and Disability Rehabilitation (CIFAD), the only one of its kind in the country, currently located in Toluca, State of Mexico.

Thanks to his initiative, children with autism, Down syndrome, hearing or visual impairments and amputees, are able to socialize and learn how to play a sport loved by many within a surrogate family encouraging them to pull through.

“It's a way of inclusion we hadn't considered before. Teachers, in their zeal to provide special attention to them, end up excluding them and even generate discrimination; they seat them in special chairs, isolate them in classrooms, in the case of public schools as they will hardly be able to enroll in private ones,” says Alejandra Paz, mother of José Luis, a boy of 12 who was diagnosed with autism at age five.

For the parents of these children, Obed's center offers a recreational area where kids in wheelchairs and children with prosthetics are free to play on a football field, twice a week, where they have no limits.

“I think the only limits they have are the ones we have imposed on them. Actually, they can easily play, dance, socialize – what's not easy is to break down the walls society places around them because they don't see themselves with the differences other people attribute to them,” says Obed, who has a degree in Physical Therapy.

Currently, there are four physical therapists providing their services at the Center and their goal is to expand the project across the State of Mexico yet the economic situation is becoming an obstacle to their plans.

“At the CIFAD we're creating job opportunities, they are all paid a salary, and thus we're open to the assistance any public institution or program can offer us,” states Obed, who also used to manage a football team of amputees, which he had to dissolve due to a lack of resources.

According to him, football becomes a rehabilitation therapy for many of the children – some of which have even participated in paralympic games.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the football field is taken over by kids with walkers, in wheelchairs, or crutches. Some of them have just begun to use their prosthetic legs and others are learning how to play without fear of being judged.


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