The pair, who were born joined at the chest in 2009 and later separated, were among hundreds of children who took part in Cork Sports Partnership’s SportsAbility Day, in UCC, at the weekend. The event, which has been running since 2008, encourages people with disabilities to participate in sport and fitness.
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf, aged six, from Midleton, in East Cork, were among the young sports stars of the future who showcased their skills for special guest, broadcasting legend, Micheal Ó Muircheartaigh.
The boys, who each have a prosthetic leg, took part in the FAI’s Frame Football session just days after the sixth anniversary of their operation. Their mum, Angie, said they got involved in the programme, run every three weeks at Midleton FC with coach, Nick Harrison, a few month ago, and haven’t looked back.
“If you were to dare a dream, this wouldn’t have come close,” she said. “This event on Saturday, just days after the operation anniversary, made me realise how far they’ve come in six years. They’re not just walking around — they’re running around and scoring goals. I hope this will inspire other parents of children with a disability to get out and try sport. Our boys are proof that anything is possible.”
She praised the SportsAbility initiative, which also showcased wheelchair karate, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, archery, bowls, blind football, yoga, seated volleyball, tag rugby and table cricket, and urged schools to do more to promote inclusion through sport.
“Children with a disability try a hundred times harder than those who don’t,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s painful to learn your child has a disability and people tend to shy away from trying things. But I would encourage parents to research, and talk to the experts, like Enable Ireland or the Irish Wheelchair Association.
“Hassan and Hussein have never looked back. The world is their oyster. They could be paralympians. I can now say I’m excited for their future and that’s a beautiful thing for us to be able to say.”