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A moment with a war disabled football player

The price for achieving Eritrean independence and safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty has been enormous. The past commemoration event of Martyrs Day was dedicated to amply highlight the deeds of the gallant fighters. Besides, many other valiant fighters have scars of the bitter war waged over the past years.   Ex-football player Simon Samuel is among those war-disabled nationals who would never walk on his feet again.  Mostly, he is known by his nick name ‘Terezeq’. Here is a brief interview with him regarding his life experience:

Let’s start with your background?
I was born in 1981 in Edaga-Hamus, Asmara, and grew up in Mai-Temenai. I attended school in Kei Amba, Solemuna and Mai-Temenai, as well as Asmara Hafeshawi Secondary School.

During your childhood, you were a member of Mai-Temenai football team. Tell us something about your childhood memories?
I remember kicking a ball with passion whenever I got the opportunity and it was quite common to play football with your peers in schools and neighborhood. I think it was part of every child experience in Asmara to grow up playing football in groups and to name football would be as future career.  Later on, children’s football teams were formed and matches classified by ages were carried out in various places.  And I became member of Mai-Temenai Children’s football team and won most of the games.  We got the opportunity to participate in Scandinavian children football games.

What particular thing do you remember in your childhood football games?
The time we spent in Scandinavian nations was unforgettable and we achieved impressed victories.  I was determined to join the Red Sea team and play in Asmara Stadium like those of renowned football players of that time.

Then what happen after you returned to Asmara?
Football was developing in a commendable pace at that time, but I went to Sawa to complete my national service in seventh round.  Even there, I continued to play football, unfortunately the TPLF regime’s war of aggression broke out and the situation wasn’t convenient to carry out sports.  Yet, I continue to play football at any given opportunity I got.   On the second invasion of the TPLF, I sustained light injury in Egri-Mekel, however in the third invasion, I sustained a serious injury.

Share your experiences during your injury?
I can’t really recall what exactly happened back then. I only recalled that four or five members of our regiment sustained injuries from heavy artillery shells in the afternoon and I happened to be one of them. We were unable to reach to hospital before the sunset. I found myself in Ala Hospital and was later transferred to Halibet Hospital for surgery. At first, I thought I was injured in my abdomen since it was covered in blood. But later on I learned I was wounded on the right side of my body. After surgical operation, I tried to adjust myself to sit, but was unable to command my legs.

What was your reaction at that moment?
It is hard to explain it in words. To see the legs once running and playing in local and international stadiums, fastened to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. However, I don’t regret the sacrifice I have made for my nation like my compatriots.

How would you describe yourself as football player and a fighter?
Both the Simon of this time and the one of back then have fulfilled their duties in two different occasions. Simon as football player has defended his team from being beaten by its counterparts.  While, the other Simon has participated in the endeavors to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty.  Thus, two Simons have fulfilled their duty in different stages alongside their compatriots in renewing Eritrean football team in international children games, and secure the nation’s independence.

How would you explain martyrdom and disability?
It is matter of life because there is no second chance in martyrdom. Disabilities induced in battlefields cannot be equated to martyrdom!

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