Amputee Soccer - The Beginnings

History compiled by:
Richard Hofmann, USA
James Frere, England
Don Bennett & Dee Horton Malcho - Founders, USA

The First Kick - September 1982

Don Bennett invented the game "by accident" in 1982. He's still active in the game and most recently help develop the sport in Mexico. He was first person elected to the into the World Amputee Football Federation Hall of Fame.

Don Bennett, of Seattle, Washington, USA, was always active - skiing, boating, mountain climbing. Then he lost his leg to a propeller in a boating accident. That may have changed his style of activities, but not his love for or his level of activity.

One example of his drive to remain active: Don became the first amputee ever to climb Washington's Mt. Rainier (the second highest peak in North America) on crutches.

Simple Beginnings: Don Bennett created amputee soccer by accident. True.

He was watching his son practice basketball in his back yard. At one point a basketball escaped and began rolling down the driveway. Don, on crutches and without his prosthesis, simply raised up on his crutches and kicked the ball back to his son.

In a flash of insight, Don figured if he could kick a basketball on crutches, he could kick a soccer ball on crutches. It was a deceptively simple beginning to what's become a world-wide sport.

At the time Bennett was more involved with skiing than soccer. So he and a group of seven other skiers used the game to keep active and stay in condition during the summer while waiting for ski season.

But the game caught on.

Founder Don Bennett center, in white T-shirt, and the very first amputee soccer team.

In 1985 Bill Barry, a soccer coach with Canadian and US pro team experience, became the coach of a team under the Seattle Handicapped Sports and Recreation Association (SHSRA). He eventually established Amputee Soccer International. Bennett continued to serve as the team's manager.

It was through his efforts, with the assistance of Don and other members of the Seattle group, that the sport was established in other countries.

Barry traveled through Central America and Eastern Europe introducing the game to anyone who would come out and watch.

At that time The Soviet Union declined to have anything to do with the game because they claimed not to have any handicapped persons.

1984  The first international amputee soccer tournament is held in Seattle, Washington, USA. American Canadian and Central American teams participate.

For the first several years of the game the goals remained regulation size and the game was played on a regulation American style football field.

The Boeing Aircraft Company became a major supporter of the game, sponsoring annual international championship events between 1986 and 1991.

One of Barry's skills was to attract media attention through a series of exhibition matches held in conjunction with other major sporting events:

The sport was designed to be played by all amputees. Women were among the first players and have competed in international competition. USA represented here by Ms. Bronyn Creed.

1984   A match at Seattle Memorial Stadium before 8,000 people during the US Olympic Soccer Team Tour.

1985  A match before 25,000 fans at a Seattle Mariners New York Yankees baseball game at the Seattle King Dome. 1986  A match seen by 47,000 fans during at halftime at a Canadian professional football game.

1994  SoccerFest at the LA Convention Center during the World Cup tournament, and during halftime of an Anaheim Splash (MISL) match in the same time frame.

1987  Pitch and goal size and other rule adaptions adopted to make the game our own.

El Salvador military veterans win the World Cup. Jose Baldimir Melgar Maravilla, a star player for El Salvador nicknamed "Rambo" for his ever present headband, scored a tournament leading six goals for the champions. El Salvador struck a postage stamp in his honor.

1988  Amputee soccer introduced in England by Dr. Gwynn Thomas, British Amputee Sports Association, as a rehabilitation activity. Later in the year England sent a team to Seattle for the 1988 World Cup.

England won the indoor competition and took the Bronze behind El Salvador (Gold) and USA) Silver in the outdoor competition.

1988  Barry introduces amputee soccer in Uzbekistan.

1989  Russia and Brazil establish amputee soccer programs and send teams to the championships.

1991  World Cup tournament, Tashkent, Uzbekistan. First World Cup held outside North America.

Latter Day Amputee Soccer

Amputee Soccer provides an arena where individuals from all cultures and points of view can come together in friendship and sportsmanship.

1998, August  World Cup Championships, Manchester, England.
           Gold - Russia
           Silver - Uzbekistan
           Bronze - Brazil

1998, December  The game's first formal governing body, the International Amputee Football Federation, is formed in Moscow, Russia. Georgi Lunacharsky, Russia, President.

Delegates include, from left: Rick Hofmann, USA; Jim Frere, England; the late Evgeny Zinkovski, Russia; Georgi Lunacharski, Russia. Other delegates included Ademir Cruz de Almedia, Brazil; Steve Johnson, England; David Mizuradze, Republic of Georgia, and Yuri Prokohrento, Ukraine.

1999  First Open European Championships, Kiev Ukraine.
           Gold - Brazil
           Silver - Russia
           Bronze - Uzbekistan

2000  World Cup - Seattle, Washington, USA.
           Gold - Brazil
           Silver - Russia
           Bronze - Ukraine

2001  World Cup, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
           Gold - Brazil
           Silver - Russia
           Bronze - England

Captain Ademir Cruz de Almedia celebrates Brazil's 2nd consecutive World Cup Championship - 2001.

2002  World Championships, Sochi, Russia
           Gold - Russia
           Silver - Brazil
           Bronze - Uzbekistan
In the bi-annual Congress member nations vote to disband the IAFF.

2003  World Championships, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
           Only four teams participate.
           Gold - Russia
           Silver - Ukraine
           Bronze - Brazil
           Fourth - Uzbekistan

2005  World Cup, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
           Gold - Brazil
           Silver - Russia
           Bronze - England
           4th - Ukraine
           5th - Sierra Leone
           6th - Turkey
Member nations in Congress form the World Amputee Football Federation. Steve Johnson, England, President.

2006  Volgograd Open Championships, Volgograd,
Russia Sept. 24 - 30, 2006
           Gold - Russia
           Silver - Great Britain
           Bronze - Uzbekistan

2007, February  First All-Africa Amputee Soccer Tournament held. Freetown, Sierra Leone.
           Gold - Ghana
           Silver - Liberia
           Bronze - Sierra Leone

First CANAF - Cup of African Nations Amputee Football.

2007  World Cup - Antalya, Turkey, November 11 - 21, 2007.
           Gold - Uzbekistan
           Silver - Russia
           Bronze - Turkey

2008  European Amputee Football Championship Dec. 1-6, 2008
           Gold - Russian
           Silver - Turkey
           Bronze - England

2009  World Cup 2009 - Nova Friburgo, Brazil
Host City reneged on commitment to host. World Cup canceled.

2010  World Cup - Crespo, Argentina October 16 - 23, 2010.
           Gold - Uzbekistan
           Silver - Argentina
           Bronze - Turkey

As Association president and team captain, Hugo Herenu (blue and white stripes) hosted 14 other teams in Crespo, Argentina, for the 2010 World Cup - that country's first major amputee football tournament.

2012  World Cup - Kaliningrad, Russia October 6 - 15, 2012.
           Gold - Uzbekistan
           Silver - Russia
           Bronze - Turkey

Legendary Coach Rustam Kariev takes Uzbekistan to its third consecutive World Cup Gold Medal.

2014  World Cup - Culiacan, Mexico Nov. 30 - Dec 8, 2014.
           Gold - Russia
           Silver - Angola
           Bronze - Turkey

2017  European Championships, Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 2017
           Gold - Turkey
           Silver - England
           Bronze - Poland
           4th - Spain

Largest crowd ever to watch an amputee soccer match. European championship match Turkey v. England, Vodafone Park, Istanbul, 41,188 fans.

2018  Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya forms first ever all women's amputee football team.

Under the leadership of President Ms. Charity Kamau, the Kenya Amputee Football Federation (KENAFF) formed the first ever national women's amputee football team.

2018  World Cup - Guadalajara, Mexico Oct. 24 - Nov. 6, 2018.

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