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'Football really changed my life'

Watching these footballers with cerebral palsy bend the ball may just bend your mind.

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Football stars in their own right

Let's get this out of the way: these guys have cerebral palsy.

Now for what's important: they play a serious game of football.

It's a sweltering hot Sunday afternoon when I first meet the team at the Singapore Khalsa Association, where they train weekly.

The sun is relentless. The guys are seated on the edge of the pitch, their coach Mohammed Zainudeen holding court with a pep talk.

Today, they face another team in a friendly match. The game kicks off soon enough, and I am introduced to the world of cerebral palsy and sport.

For 60 minutes I see running, kicking, dribbling, passing, deft touches, shooting and scoring.

The common term is disability. But on the pitch, the truer words are talent, passion, teamwork and determination.

Off the pitch, they come together to celebrate another weekly game wholeheartedly executed. The camaraderie is apparent in the easy smiles, chatter and jokes.

Speaking to them  and listening in on their conversations, I immediately catch on that they want to talk about football, about school, about plans, about sport, about girls, about futures.

Not about their muscular condition.

They are footballers. There's no place in their lives for self-pity or resignation.

They are liberated, full members of society. And by the way, they bagged Singapore a silver medal at the 7th Asean Para Games in Myanmar.

They didn't choose to have cerebral palsy, but you can certainly tell when these footballers are on the pitch, that they've chosen to live life large and full.

Keep living it large, Bala, Firdaus, Harun, Hitesh, Khairul, Nizam, Mubarak, Peter, Shafiq, Shahidil, Suhaimi and Taufiq.

There are lots of ways to get involved!

  • "Like" the team on Facebook to show your support
  • Join the team or encourage friends and family with cerebral palsy to join
  • Play a friendly match against them
  • Email the team manager to volunteer to coach
  • Or offer a pitch for them to train regularly
  • Or donate funds for refreshments and training needs

Shot and edited by Anshul Tiwari
Produced and written by Tsen-Waye Tay

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