HISTORY OF THE GAME
Don Bennett, a native of Seattle, was always active - skiing, boating, mountain climbing. When he lost his leg to a propeller in a boating accident, his activities changed, but not his passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Don became the first amputee to climb Washington's Mt. Rainier, the second highest peak in North America, on crutches.
Amputee soccer was created by accident.
Don 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.
Don realized that 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.
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.
Bringing nations together with soccer.
The first international amputee soccer tournament was hosted in Don's hometown of Seattle in 1984 with players from the United States, Canada and Central America. The game is now played in more than 50 countries around the world. Recent teams who have joined the World Amputee Football Federation include, Cameroon, Togo, Ivory Coast, Palestine, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama and Azerbaijan.