“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence” – Helen Keller
When Mohammad Abdullah, was just seven years old, he lost both his legs in a terrible train accident, but today this Bangladeshi boy is known for his impressive football skills.
Abdullah was raised by his father and stepmother after his mother abandoned him in his early childhood. His family would abuse him, and it made Abdullah run away. After months of begging and living on streets, he started to live with his grandmother.
In 2001, Abdullah slipped from a moving train when he was trying to reach another carriage. His legs got trapped under the wheels of the speeding train. He was hurriedly taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where he was treated and eventually lost both his legs below the thigh. No one from his family made contact with him and left him at the benevolence of the hospital. After the treatment, the hospital authorities sent him to an orphanage. For next 18 months, he studied in Barisal Yusuf School and at last ran away.
“I had no hope, and I didn’t know where I belonged to. I was afraid of being trapped so I preferred living on streets. People always gave me money because of my condition. But I was not happy and wanted something better for myself, so I decided to work with my strong arms. I became a newspaper hawker and saved a meagre amount of money I earned. I would see boys playing football on the streets, and it reignited my passion to play football, but they wouldn’t allow me.”
Abdullah was then sent to Aparajeyo Bangla, an NGO where he learned to move around on a wheelchair but he was determined to make the most out of his life. He started to walk without the help of the wheelchair.
“Ï feared I have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair so I decided to walk without it. I was determined to be independent and began trying to walk. Initially, it was difficult but eventually I succeeded. I can now walk, work and play football like other people.”
A football coach at Aparajeyo Bangla encouraged Abdullah to practice and pursue his football passion.
“People gets surprised when they see me play football. They wonder how I play football with no legs! But I show them. I am not afraid now. I am ready to compete against any player. It feels good to hear people comment on my skills.”
Apart from refining his skills with the ball, Abdullah also works as a porter at a ferry station to pay for his meals.
Abdullah desires to compete professionally one day. Abdullah is a conglomeration of courage, hope and innate optimism. His story is an inspiration never to give up in life.