“We don’t want you on our team! You’re too slow!” He still heard the words in his head as he watched his friends play on the field. The boy who said them had been cruel, but it wasn’t far from the truth and Allan knew it. Tears stung his eyes at the time, but he bravely stood and watched the game before going home to his family and acting as if nothing had happened. Now he was watching again, but he didn’t feel so hurt today – because he knew there was a place he could play, where it didn’t matter that he walked with a limp.
“Allan, what’s wrong?” a tutor at the centre had asked one day, as he stood on the side-lines looking sad. Allan explained and, seeing the hurt on the boy’s face, he gave him a reassuring tap on the shoulder. “You like soccer?” Allan nodded vigorously. “Well, here everyone gets to play. We’ll put you in as goalkeeper.”
Allan never forgot that first game of soccer – how he couldn’t stop smiling, and the ride home on his bike couldn’t pass quickly enough. “I did it! I played soccer and I stopped the other team scoring!” he shouted as his bicycle sped into view. His parents could hardly believe their ears, but his father smiled as he went to meet Allan. Cycling and soccer. Neither seemed fitting for a cripple, but they were top on Allan’s list. Sometimes he would wince in pain as he rode, but today the boy looked happily exhausted as he climbed off his bike and leant on his father’s arm to walk to the house. Allan flopped down by the fire and his mother handed him a piece of hot toast. He told them more as he ate and they listened, full of admiration for the love and compassion his tutor had shown him.
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The story is only imaginary, but Allan is a real Guatemalan boy. He’s nine years old and crippled in one leg. You could sponsor Allan or another like him. On Compassion’s website, you can select a child with special needs and be a supportive influence in their life.