Saturday September 09, 2017

From struggle to soccer: a refugee finds happiness on the football field

Seidu Mohammed has to decide about getting an operation to replace his missing fingers.

Seidu Mohammed has to decide about getting an operation to replace his missing fingers. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Listen 7:16

Seidu Mohammad's goals have changed drastically in the past few months. 

Last December, the refugee from Ghana crossed the Manitoba border into Canada and nearly died due to the frigid conditions. He lost his fingers as a result of severe frostbite, and was eventually granted asylum by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Now, Mohammed's next big dream is to play professional soccer.

"When I'm on the field I feel like I'm back on my feet again," he said. "I'm happy when I'm playing."

Seidu Mohammed

Seidu Mohammed feels at home when he's on the soccer field. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

"I'm playing to go to the next level," he told Now or Never host Ify Chiwetelu. "Because if someone saw me playing and he wants me to go to Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver to play for trials, that's the next level."

"I'm not willing to be on social assistance for the rest of my life. I'm here to work hard and give the talents that I have. This is my country now and this is my city."

But now, Mohammad is faced with a tough decision that could put an end to his soccer dreams. Because he lost his fingers to frostbite, doctors are suggesting that he replace his missing thumbs by transplanting some of his toes.

"I was worried that I would not get a chance to play anymore because of what happened to my fingers. But we use our feet to play soccer, not our hands."

Seidu Mohammed describes being lost in the frigid cold2:32

Having the operation would make day-to-day life easier, and enable him to button his shirts and tie his shoelaces. But Mohammed told Now or Never that he's not sure he wants to go through with the operation.

"If I lost my toes, it would mean I can't play soccer," he said. "I can't run the way I used to run. I don't want that to happen to me... It's a big decision for me."

Mohammad meets with his surgeon next month.

Inspired by this story? Create your own Now or Never list and answer the question: "One big thing I want to get done in 2017-2018 is..."