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Amputee Soccer Team Founder Took a Page from Jovenes Adelante’s Playbook

Deportivo San Miguel team with manager, Ángel González Cano (in red shirt), photo by John Bohnel

By Robert J. Hawkins

Deportivo San Miguel team with manager, Ángel González Cano (in red shirt), photo by John Bohnel

The longer you watch the Deportivo San Miguel Leones team play soccer—or as they call it, futbol—the less aware you are that its players are amputees. It becomes all about great plays, skilled moves, and stunning speed.

In a word, it is futbol.

And that is fine with Ángel González Cano, who four years ago founded the team—the state of Guanajuato’s national team. His players are no more defined by their disabilities than he is by his, a right arm badly damaged at birth due to medical negligence.

Ángel has made a good life for himself, and with the Leones has given back to the community. This is no surprise. Ángel is a 2013 graduate of the Jóvenes Adelante university scholarship program. From the start, success and community service are what all Jóvenes students are groomed for.

Through the vital support of Jóvenes, his mentor Efrain González, and his own family and friends, Ángel graduated as a top student from the Autonomous University of Nuevo León in Monterrey with a degree in criminology. After a stint in state government in Guanajuato, now 32, he returned to San Miguel as a construction supervisor. Six years on, he still meets with Efrain for coffee at least twice a month.

During his soccer career on an amputee soccer team in Monterrey, he discovered a powerful community. Some of his teammates were Olympic medalists, while others worked with cancer patients and amputees.

“What am I doing to help people who are in a similar situation to me?’ he asked himself.

So in Guanajuato, he organized a soccer team for amputees. He wanted to inspire others the way he had been inspired in Monterrey.

Now in San Miguel, the team draws players from all over the state. It has proven its mettle by bringing home some prestigious trophies, including two second-places in the nationals.

On a recent Sunday, the team scrimmaged hard, getting ready for league play, which starts in September. Ángel, who has coached them for two years, works on the sidelines, happy to serve as manager. But on this particular day, he had to tell his team that the city had dropped its support. It hit everyone hard. He promised his mates he’d keep looking for solutions.

His life is busy enough without these ups and downs. Why does he do it? His answer echoes his Jóvenes background.

“We do it for family,” he said. “This one on the field and our own. No handicap limits what we do. And we want to inspire others to show up and prove to themselves that they can do anything they put their minds to.”

Jóvenes Adelante offers San Miguel youth a chance at a brighter future through university scholarships and by developing their life and leadership skills. To become a sponsor, a mentor, or a candidate, or for more information, visit Jóvenes Adelante at jovenesadelante.org, call 415 150 0030, or email info@jovenesadelante.org.

To help Deportivo San Miguel Leones, contact Efrain Gonzalez at eg333837@gmail.com

 

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