|Copyright © 2000 The Seattle Times
Local News : Sunday, November 19, 2000
Amputee soccer: Brazil beats Russia, 2-1
Seattle Times staff reporter
A world championship was decided yesterday at Seattle Center, but it
had nothing to do with the Supersonics.
In an overtime match that pitted skillful individual play against
tactical teamwork, the skill of Brazil beat Russia 2-1 to win the World
Cup of amputee soccer.
For the past week, seven teams from around the world have played in the
soccer tournament, hosted this year by Seattle. The idea for
amputee soccer came from a pick-up basketball game on Mercer
Island 20 years ago. Donald Bennett, now 70 and retired, was standing on
the sidelines when the ball came toward him. Swinging from his crutches,
he kicked the ball and the idea for the sport was born.
Like their counterparts on the national team, Brazilians are known for
their skillful ball handling, said Don Bell, a youth-soccer coach.
Although the players use crutches, they handle the ball well because most
players grew up playing the game.
But the tactical play of the Russians almost won out with better
passing and solid defense. They had more scoring opportunities in the
first half, but their one goal was a header just out of the Brazilian
Brazil tied the game late in the second half, leading to sudden-death
overtime. But the Brazilians didn't take long, scoring moments into the
extra period on a length-of-field kick that a Brazilian player headed into
In the bronze-medal match Friday night, the Ukraine beat Uzbekistan
Many of those who came to the game were soccer fans or players
in youth or adult soccer leagues. The level of play impressed
Seattle resident David McGeoy, who has played soccer his whole life
and plays in a Seattle recreational league.
"I'm surprised at the pace they can maintain, the speeds they get up to
getting up and down the field," he said. "The play of the ball is not at
all different from play outdoor on a field."
It probably will be years before Americans' soccer skills catch
up to the rest of the world, Bell said. Amputee soccer has
been a rehabilitation boon for those recovering from the loss of a
limbwhile only slightly altering the way the sport is played.
"Of all the sports for disabled athletes, I think it has been the
closest to the spirit of the sport," he said.
Frank Vinluan's phone message number is 206-464-2291. His e-mail
address is firstname.lastname@example.org.