With their illusions complete, the Amputee Team travels to the World Cup in Turkey

The Colombian amputee soccer team will leave this Monday for Turkey to participate, for the second time, in the world championship of the discipline, which this year will be held in Istanbul from November 30 to October 10.

The team, which before traveling concentrated its 15 members in the city of Barranquilla, joins Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay as the representatives of South America in the tournament where 24 nations meet.

The selection is made up of goalkeepers Alfonso Visbal, Arnol Sepúlveda and Yerri Herrera; defenders Fabián Duarte, Néder Calvo, Pedro Pilonietas, Daniel Pérez and Jairo Meza; the frills Jorge Henao, Jesus Moreno, Jorge Tovar, Jose Suarez and Sergio Acevedo and the forwards Luis Cassiani and Candelario Donado.

Coach Edgar Blanco He told Efe that they had to take a series of steps to guarantee the necessary resources to pay for the trip. “Participation in the World Cup costs 300 million pesos (about 67,500 dollars today), which we got by knocking on doors before different public and private entities.”

One of the difficulties for the players was the sticks with which they had to play, which were often made by hand with aluminum tubes.

Blanco said that the Junior striker Charles Bacca, provided these items out of pocket for all team members. They are made of carbon fiber, are much lighter and better handling.

“While in other countries like Brazil or Argentina they can play every day, with these guys we barely meet as much as we can because they have to work to earn a living,” explained Blanco, who also works as a physical trainer, masseur and even a psychologist for the team.

Canes donated by Carlos Bacca.

A clear example of the situation described by coach Blanco is defender Pedro Pilonietas, who at 43 is the oldest and one of the fastest on the team.

Pilonietas account that “I lost my leg at 22 in a freak accident when a shotgun went off at me.” “My career as a footballer in which I had already represented the Atlántico team was cut short.”

Until very recently, Pilonietas had to earn a living in Palmar de Varela, a town near Barranquilla, on the streets as a vendor of bags of water or as a bicycle or motorcycle taxi driver, an unauthorized transportation service that is very common in northern Colombia. “Today I thank Professor Blanco because he helped me get a job as a park ranger,”write down

They show skill and speed, while running leaning on their crutch.

Candelario Donado, 37, was bitten by a snake when he was 10. At that time, in his hometown, they took him to a healer, which ultimately ended in having his limb amputated. Today, in addition to being the captain of the Colombian amputees team, he has been, along with Luis Cassiani, the promoter and promoter of this discipline in the country.

“Here I am fulfilling this dream of being a soccer player because I have represented Colombia twice, in a Copa América where I was the top scorer and in the 2018 World Cup that was played in Mexico, where we reached the quarterfinals,” Candelario tells when expressing his optimism about the participation in Turkey.

Another of the experienced is Alfonso Visbal, 37 years old. When he was a professional player, he was directed by World Cup coach Jorge Luis Pinto and today, in addition to having a sports equipment store, he is a goalkeeper coach at training schools in Cúcuta, his hometown.

Colombia hopes to achieve the world title.

A bone cancer in the head of the humerus that metastasized to the lung has not been an impediment for Visbal who, in addition to being the goalkeeper of the Colombian amputees soccer team, today dedicates his life to training children without any physical limitations, to be , as emphasized “the best under the three suits”.