ABU DHABI // While most young football enthusiasts dream of playing for an international team, 13-year-old Ameer Bachache wants only to be able to wear football boots and play with his friends.
The Algerian boy was born with several deformities in his legs and arms. Some were caused by a dislocation and fracture of his hip during his birth, says Said Bachache, Ameer’s 55-year-old father.
Since Ameer’s birth, the boy has had 17 operations on his legs to straighten them and allow him to stand independently. In spite of this, Ameer has his legs in a cast to keep them straight and requires braces to walk.
But he outgrew the cast and his leg braces and his legs have began to curve again.
“He suffered for 13 days. It breaks our hearts when he tells us that he wants to sleep for one night without pain,” says Mr Bachache, who moved to the UAE 15 years ago. “Now the device is too small and his legs bleed because it’s too tight. I couldn’t handle seeing him in so much pain – all the blood and the sores.”
Mr Bachache sold all he had to pay for his only child’s operations. “He’s worth it. Everything I own and earn is for him. Ameer is my eyes and soul. He is my only child,” he says.
Ameer requires further surgery to help his legs to grow and for him to stand. His father, who earns Dh4,000 a month working for a printer, cannot afford it.
“I don’t know what to do. Ameer is smart and he loves sports and he is full of life. All he wants is for the pain to stop and to stand up,” says Mr Bachache.
Without the operation, Ameer will be confined to his wheelchair, which he has also outgrown and his family cannot afford another one. His father does not want an electric wheelchair for his son.
“I want a regular one which he can push. He has to depend on himself. Ameer has never felt like he is disabled, and I don’t want him to ever feel like that. I know he has it in him and he will be the one to take care of me and his mother one day,” says Mr Bachache.
Ameer’s dreams have no limits. “I know I’ll play football one day. I won’t be as good as [Barcelona star Lionel] Messi but I’m really good. I used to play with the leg braces, but now it’s hard,” he says.
Hisham Al Zahrani, who manages zakat and social services at Dar Al Ber, says Mr Al Bachache has many hopes and dreams for Ameer.
“It is also very heartbreaking to meet a genuine kid whose only dream is not to be a famous player or a superstar. Rather his ambitions are just to be able to stand, walk and run to play with his friends. This is only possible with this operation which he cannot afford,” says Mr Al Zahrani.