Bystanders at the Nairobi City Stadium have been treated to spectacular and comical scenes for the last few weeks in form of the national men dwarf team that is training for an invitational tournament in the USA later this year.
The prying eyes at Kenya’s oldest sporting facility have been fascinated by the unusually short stature of the players who could be considered by many people to be pejorative. Yet the eight-member team under coach Emmanuel Karani is leaving no chance in its quest to make an impression in the game full of oddities in terms of rules and in which Kenya will be represented for the first time in the international scene.
Among the rules is that players are not allowed to make head contact with the ball and in the event that occurs, whether intentional or inadvertent, the opposing team is awarded an indirect free kick at the point of foul. The no-header rule is recommended because of the prevalence of atlantoaxial instability among dwarf athletes, and the associated possibility of spinal cord injury.
For starters, Kenyan dwarf football has by and large been a recreational game than a competitive one and it must be noted that the presence of Karani marked a turning point in the team’s prospects to rub shoulders with foreign sides.
“I remember this time when I was playing for Nairobi County team at City Stadium when I saw this bunch of players on the sidelines who were trying to hone their skills in this game. Then as fate would have it, their managers approached me to help instil expertise and I took the offer with open arms.
The rest is history,” offers Karani. Since being appointed the tactician on a voluntary basis, Karani has been burning the midnight oil to ensure the players hit the right cord in training.
“Initially, some of the players had not known to use their boots hence finding it difficult to execute touches but I’m glad we are now getting somewhere,” said Karani. He further said it was encouraging to note that even without government and corporate goodwill, the players have over-stretched themselves by buying their own uniform and boots.
For Karani, the work he has been doing is there for all to see having spearheaded the team to victories during friendly matches against a makeshift Dwarf Ladies team and the national under-15 able-bodied side.
Kenya is scheduled to tour the USA in July where it shall take part in the Dwarf Athletics Association of America (DAAA) 31st National Games slated for Orlando, Florida.