Kenya's dwarf football team dreams of going pro, inspiring new sides
Nairobi : Lion Stars, Kenya's first men's dwarf football team, is optimistic about its future, despite being forced to miss out on its chance to participate in a recent tournament in the United States.
The team's eight players had set their hopes on attending the Dwarf Athletic Association of America national games in Florida from July 7-11, but financial constraints made it unfeasible, reports Efe.
"We face the challenge of ground, we face a challenge of balls, we face challenge of corns, we face challenge of uniform," volunteer coach Gabriel Ochieng said about some of the problems the team faced, adding that it only had one strip.
Due to a lack of sponsorship possibilities, the team has reached out to the Kenyan government and well-wishers for help.
But despite not being in a position to attend the competition in the US, the team is looking ahead to the Copa Argentina in October, where it hopes to be able to compete in friendly matches.
While the team plays on a recreational basis, it seeks to take on international sides and eventually turn professional. The players, aged between 18-47 years old, have faced able-bodied teams on occasion.
Dwarf soccer has different rules to the mainstream version, in the interests of player safety. Headers are banned, for instance, to prevent spinal injuries, and if a player heads the ball, the other team will be awarded a free kick.
The only soccer team of its kind in East Africa, the side is looking to inspire similar groups in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda using a messaging group called "Little people of East Africa," the epa-efe source said.
Lion Stars was established with the help of "Short Stature Society of Kenya," in a bid to tackle stigmatization by offering people a chance to get involved in activities such as motivational speaking, theater and community work, as well as sports like weight-lifting, badminton and soccer.