Sasha, a fifth grader in Moscow Elementary School # 31, has cerebral palsy. Like many kids with cerebral palsy, at first he had problems with coordination and fine motor skills, and he was unsteady on his feet.
Who would have thought that a boy with these kinds of physical disabilities would become the forward for the district soccer team?
Sasha began to believe in himself after he got involved in Perspektiva’s project “Children in Motion: Together is Better!” Perspektiva – a disability NGO -- brought famous athletes with disabilities to school and held workshops on Paralympic sports. After Sasha met Igor Lomakin, a champion of World Amputee Football, he got a bee in his bonnet, and he realized that he, too, could become a football star.
For three years, he trained in mini-football. Gennady, Sasha’s physical education teacher, said, “Now we’re working on his tactical game. He’s got good technique, great stamina and fast reactions. He moves the ball forward so fast that even kids who are older than him have a hard time catching him.” He added that, “Training really helped him open up. He was a very timid, shy kid. He even moved timidly. Now that he’s been hanging out with the other kids, he’s more sure of himself.”
Sasha’s mother, Elena, said that the sports training hasn’t just improved his physical development. It has had a positive effect on his social adaptation, too. In the past, Sasha needed more help to understand things that her younger son got right away. But now, Elena said, “Since the training he’s making connections faster and so he is more natural and confident when he’s with his peers. He has new friends and new kids to hang out with on the street — something he never had before at all. This is the result of team sports.”
After every match, Sasha tells his mother how his team played. His team took third place in the Moscow city games. Sasha has set himself a goal — to bring the team to first place. “I love football! I love to play with the team and hit goals. And I’m good at it!”