Iain Hepburn | August 30, 2012
On the eve of the Paralympics comes a remarkable story of the triumph of human spirit in overcoming anything.
11-year-old Brazilian kid Gabriel Muniz has been invited to train with Barcelona at their summer camp in Spain.
Now, it’s not like Barca haven’t an affinity for finding special young talent from South America. But Gabriel – from Campos dos Goytacazes, a city located 170 miles north-east of Rio de Janeiro – is just that bit more special than the rest.
Because Gabriel was born without any feet. He wears prosthetic ankles and feet to help him get around, but discards them when he plays his favourite sport with his schoolfriends.
After his appearance on a sports show on Brazilian television, Muniz was invited to take part in Barcelona’s training camp in Saquarema in the South American country. He impressed the Spanish club’s representatives so much that he then received an invitation to travel to Barcelona’s academy next month.
“When he arrived there [the Barcelona academy in Saquarema], no one believed in him. But he proved to everyone there, he can go head to head with any other boy,” Jose Lopes, Gabriel’s PE teacher, said in a video broadcast by The Telegraph.
“The disability only exists inside our heads and he is proving it to everyone; he is challenging the social norms.
“To this day there isn’t a Paralympics 11-a-side football team, but Gabriel is showing this will have to change, because he wants to play 11-a-side football.
Gabriel’s mother, Sandra, was delighted when she heard the news of her son’s invitation.
According to The Sun, Sandra said: “He started walking before he was one. We would go after him, expecting him to keep falling, but he never fell.”