This article is adapted in part with permission from the American Amputee Soccer Association (AASA).
The 2022 Amputee Soccer World Cup kicks off this weekend, in Istanbul, Turkey, with Team USA opening the tournament against England. Team USA starts its quest for the championship against a strong opponent who qualified for the European finals in 2017. These players, all of whom are amputees or live with limb difference, each have their own story of remarkable athletic achievement.
Team USA will bring 15 players and 11 staff, representing 10 states, to the World Cup. Team captain Nico Calabria of Boston, was named Most Valuable Player of the regional qualifying tournament in Jalisco, Mexico, this past March.
We learned that Jason Evans, one of the Team USA players from Austin, TX, has benefited from the Amputee Coalition as a source of knowledge and education resources and a connection platform to network with others in the limb loss and limb difference community. He applauds the organization’s efforts to advocate for rights and representation in the area of insurance laws, for him and all amputees.
Asked to share advice for people who, despite their limb loss or difference, are striving to reach their own personal goals, Evans said, “The best way to eat an elephant is in small bites!”
“The same thing applies to whatever goal you set for yourself, small consistent daily gains build a strong foundation and before you know it you will accomplish every goal you set out to accomplish….you will also learn a great deal about patience along the way!” he said.
Recently, the AASA named Los Angeles FC midfielder Kellyn Acosta as its first official ambassador. Acosta, 27, is a 10-year veteran of Major League Soccer, having also played for FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids. Acosta says that “Soccer is a sport that we all love so much and compete in. It truly unites people around the world in whatever fashion it’s played.” He added, “The level of competition is incredible, and the amputee soccer matches are a great viewing experience. Amputee soccer has gained more awareness in other countries around the world, and it’s time to really put the sport and the team on the map in the U.S.”
Head coach Dr. Eric Lamberg, an associate dean in the School of Health Professions at Stony Brook University and president of the American Amputee Soccer Association, said: “The U.S. Amputee Soccer team has been training and is at peak performance. We look forward to competing against the best amputee soccer teams in the world.”
The American Amputee Soccer Association aims to promote and develop the sport for the benefit of people living with limb loss and limb differences. The AASA is working to grow the sport for both women and men Through the development of local outreach programs for juniors and adults, their goal is to introduce players to the sport, maximize their proficiency, build self-confidence, learn the power of teamwork, and build a strong social network.
Secondly, their mission is to select, develop, and train elite amputee soccer athletes to represent the United States in international competitions. The ultimate vision is to be recognized on the world stage by the International Paralympic Committee and to compete in the Paralympic Games.
Let’s help AASA put this sport on the map! The Amputee Coalition is cheering on Team USA for huge successes throughout the tournament!