FRISCO - “Soccer is hard enough but doing it on crutches definitely amplifies it 50-fold,” retired Army Sergeant Robert Ferguson.
It wasn’t your typical training session at Toyota Stadium on Thursday. This session was different. It was inspirational, exciting and something no one who was there will forget.
Members of the Haitian Amputee Soccer Team along with members of the American Amputee Soccer Team worked out with FC Dallas. The Haitian squad is in the states through December 19th on a goodwill tour of sorts, to raise awareness for amputee soccer in the US.
Every one of those athletes has a story. Every single one is remarkable.
Retired Army Sergeant Robert Ferguson was one of three US players training with the Haitian side and competing against the FC Dallas first team. This is a man for whom soccer is not just a passion. It saved his life.
“I was the quintessential broken veteran: alcoholism, angry, suicidal thoughts and attempts,” he told me after the morning workout.
Ferguson served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Korea during his military career. As a lifelong soccer player and fan, the sport was his release while overseas. He even taught Afghanis how to play soccer while he was stationed there.
It wasn’t during a tour of duty, though, when he lost his leg. During a training accident at Fort Hood, he got pinned by a tank when its parking break wasn’t locked in place.
“I was two minutes from dying,” Ferguson said. “I almost bled out, with two tourniquets on. It severed the vein and missed the artery by half a centimeter."
Ferguson lost his right leg. He also lost his love of soccer, thinking he could never play again now that he was an amputee.
“Too many amputee let the amputation define them,” he noted.
That was Ferguson’s case until his fiancé encouraged him to get moving and start playing again, knowing it could change everything. He took off his leg, grabbed some crutches and got back on a pitch.
“Soccer has been everything for the last two years,” he said.
He’s focused now increasing the profile of amputee soccer in the United States and in Texas.
“It’s become my personal mission to make Texas the epicenter for amputee soccer,” he claimed.
The US team lost to Haiti at tournament in July.
“I want to get the United States to where we can compete at that level,” Ferguson stated.
Something tells me he won’t have any problem reaching his goal.