Reprinted with Permission
Wilmington, Del. News-Journal - January 10, 1999
Players prove you don’t need
to get a kick out of life
Whether you have two legs or just one, you can kick a ball. Richard Hofmann is out to prove that by starting a dream team of amputee soccer players to one day beat the stuffing out of two-legged players.
by Berlinda Bruce
"At its roots, anybody can kick a ball, even on crutches, said Hofmann who is already recruiting people to play for the American Amputee Soccer Association.
He assembled a few players the other night at the Edgemoor Community center for a scrimmage.
And yes people fall, Hofmann says. Two-legged people fall, one legged people fall. But you hustle to your feet, foot or crutches and keep moving.
"Its something an amputee can do and excel at," he said. "When people start to play, it doesn’t occur to them they’re "disabled" in any way.
"You don't have to have a high level of skill; that will come. We’re getting trainers, we’re getting coaches."
Special to the News Journal - Don Blake.
Richard Hofmann kicks the ball during a recent scrimmage at the Edgemoor Community center. Hofmann is looking for amputees to play soccer.
Hofmann played soccer in college. He had two legs then. He lost his right leg from the knee down several years ago as the result of a motorcycle accident. He didn’t dwell on the loss of his leg, rather he accepted it an looked for the next episode life had waiting for him.
What soon happened was fateful - he interest in soccer was reignited when he went to an amputee demonstration game in Philadelphia about a year ago.
There he met a new pal, Charlie Straining, an amputee with whom he now shares shoes and a love for the game. And Straining has become his partner in this venture.
Since that demonstration game Hofmann has become the Executive Director for the American Amputee Soccer Association. He’s recruiting there as well as through hospitals, other amputee associations and by word of mouth.
His short-range goal is to put together a strong team for an August competition in the Ukraine. But long-range he’s looking for kids, women, men and adults - anyone who is an amputee - to give soccer a shot and play for recreational and competitive teams.
"It’s good for the cardiovascular system," he said. He says there are also psychological benefits especially helpful to people struggling to cope with the loss of a limb.
"We saw this kid play who had been a lacrosse star…He’s 18 years old. He was withdrawn, but when he started to play soccer, he loved it. The kid found out if he could do that, he could do anything."
Already, there are amputee soccer teams in Washington state, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Once there are teams in five states the group can get recognition by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Call Hofmann at (302) 383 - 2665 If you’d like to play. The American Amputee Soccer Association also has a web site www.ampsoccer.com.
No special equipment is required and people from all walks of life are welcome.
Hofmann is a man whose mind is always clicking. Nowadays, it is cranking out thoughts about soccer and how to prove it doesn’t take two legs to kick a ball around a soccer field.
"We’re looking forward to playing some two-legged players," he said. "We think we can whip their butts because they don’t work
their upper bodies."
Delaware People appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Call Berlinda Bruce at (302) 324-2782, write her at Box 15506, Wilmington DE 19850, or send e-mail to email@example.com
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