MALAYSIA: Muhammad Aqil Naufal Zaharin, an 11-year-old with an indomitable spirit, is eagerly looking forward to rekindling his passion for football after receiving a prosthetic leg, generously provided by the Youth and Sports Ministry.
Aqil, a student at Sekolah Kebangssan Felda Lepar Utara 1, has been an inspiration to many.
In 2015, Aqil had his leg amputated due to a bacterial infection, in addition to the loss of his father two years ago.
In Aug, he gained significant attention when he stepped into the spotlight, representing his school’s sports team in a semi-final race as part of a school event.
His incredible determination and resilience came to the forefront when he successfully completed the 100-meter race on crutches, hopping on one leg.
His achievement garnered praises and admiration from many.
Government support makes Aqil’s football dream a reality
Expressing his excitement about his newfound mobility, Aqil said that “he can’t wait to go for football training and engage in curricular activities with my friends at school.”
The young boy conveyed his appreciation for the comfort of his prosthetic leg, despite the initial adjustment period.
“My mother helped me put on the prosthetic leg, and it’s quite comfortable even though it’s my first time wearing it.
“I’m trying to adapt to it for school and playing with my friends,” he told Kosmo, a Malaysian media outlet.
It marks a significant milestone in his journey towards fulfilling his dream of playing football.
Aqil’s family expressed profound gratitude for the support they received from the government.
His uncle shared that Aqil ecstatically ran and jumped around at home upon receiving the prosthetic leg.
“We are also delighted by his actions. However, he is still cautious in adapting to the prosthetic leg.
“We are touched by the government’s assistance, which has not only provided him with comfort but also helped him achieve his aspirations,” he said.
Aqil’s inspirational journey and government support
Aqil’s inspiring story caught the attention of many, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who lauded his determination and unwavering spirit.
During the 2024 Budget presentation, Anwar highlighted Aqil’s story, stating that he “showed enthusiasm for his passion despite his challenges.”
The Prime Minister further announced that Aqil’s dream of playing football has been realized through government assistance and the support of the Malaysian Association of Football for the Disabled (Mafa).
This gesture is part of a broader initiative, as Anwar disclosed that RM12 million has been allocated to the National Sports Council to train and prepare para-athletes for international para-sports events.
On September 1, the Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports, Hannah Yeoh, took to her Facebook to recount the moment when Aqil consulted with the prosthetic expert from Artalive Sdn Bhd.
This meeting was aimed at evaluating the specific prosthetic requirements essential for his active involvement in sports.
“It’s not about being the fastest, but it’s his desire and determination to finish the race that amazes me,” she said.
During the visit with prosthetic expert, Hannah was accompanied by the Malaysian Amputee Football Association (MAFA), a non-governmental organization that leads the ‘Projek Tongkat’ initiative aimed at providing support to amputees through sports.
Additionally, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, in partnership with the National Sports Institute (ISN), will be responsible for the installation of a hip disarticulation prosthesis for Aqil.
Dr. Ahmad Munawwar Helmi, a sports medical expert at the National Sports Institute of Malaysia, will conduct ongoing monitoring to mitigate any potential long-term concerns or complications.
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