Feature: Without right arm, Palestinian goalkeeper gains recognition, applause
by Sanaa Kamal
RAMALLAH, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Without an arm, Oday Nasser has become an outstanding goalkeeper known across the West Bank, who managed to win dozens of medals in the local football league.
The 26-year-old man, who was born without his right arm, has been playing for Deir Sharaf club from the city of Nablus, while all his teammates don't have disability.
"It was not easy to get this position, especially since a goalkeeper has to do everything to stop a ball from reaching the gate," Nasser told Xinhua, while putting on the jersey of his team before starting a training session.
"Initially, I was sad when I saw the looks of people, including my relatives, who felt pity for me and thought I couldn't play football because of my disability," the young man recalled.
However, those looks soon disappeared and the pity did not stop him from pursuing his goal to become a professional football player.
At the beginning, Nasser was playing football at school until he was noticed by his sports teacher, who appreciated his ability to guard the gate and not let anyone score a goal. Back then, Nasser was only 10 years old.
Nasser played his first official match in the West Bank in 2015. After that, he participated in 22 leagues at the level of the Palestinian governorates.
As one of the best goalkeepers in the West Bank, Nasser has won three cups and dozens of medals, including gold, silver and bronze ones.
In order to develop his football skills, Nasser is committed to training for nearly five hours a day, getting applause from coaches for his endurance and creativity in capturing the ball.
"Losing a part of your body does not mean losing your passion for life or becoming a burden on your family or society," Nasser noted.
"When life takes from us something important, it also gives us strength somewhere else," he said.
Nasser expressed his regret over the Palestinian society's attitude towards those with disabilities, who are often treated as second-class people.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, individuals with disabilities in Palestine constitute 2.1 percent of the total population.
The performance of Nasser was praised by his coach Ahmed Antary, who said that "he is distinguished by his high ability to jump in the air and catch the ball, as well as his high flexibility."
"Nasser has managed to achieve this position in record time since he joined our club. He proved himself and winned the job as an official guard for the club, and now we cannot do without him in any way," Antary said.
When there are no matches, Nasser works as a construction worker to make ends meet.
"Playing football was the key for me to convince people that I can work and make money," he said, flashing a smile.
"I have the determination to live my life normally without being dependent on anyone," he insisted, adding that he is working on sharing his experience with the disabled people to encourage them to tap into their potentials and prove themselves.
Moreover, Nasser has expressed his hope to represent the Palestinian national team as a goalkeeper in international matches. Enditem