“It is a wrong idea for disabled people to give up hope. The country enforces the policy of protection of persons with disabilities, taking responsible care of their life. I want to say to them that under its care everyone can realize their dream and hope if they try hard,” said Ma Yu Chol(pictured), table tennis coach of the Korean Sports Association of the Disabled.
Ma cherished a hope of becoming a sports star from his childhood, but became disabled by an accident when he was five years old.
“Yu Chol played with a ball even for fun in his childhood and enjoyed football with his seniors. Neighbours used to say a young sports prodigy was produced in the village,” recalled his mother So Sun Hui.
She felt her heart breaking when his son had his left leg amputated and felt as if his dream and hope were dashed by the mistakes of the parents whenever she saw her one-legged son follow the children playing football.
Yu Chol became disabled in his childhood, but never abandoned his hope for sports even a moment.
He could not run into the playground and play football with one foot, but stay outside the playground and look with envy on his friends playing football. And when he finished the middle school course and his friends joined the army, entered universities and colleges and found jobs, he felt small thinking he was useless in society.
But a ray of hope shone on him.
Ma met Ri Chol Ung, the then table tennis coach of the Korean Sports Association of the Disabled, on a visit to him.
He persuaded Ma to play table tennis, saying he could do it and if he trained hard and improved his skill, he could compete even in international events.
He could not sleep that night as he was full of fresh hope and confidence that though disabled, he could play sports, Ma recalled later.
From then on, Yu Chol learned how to play table tennis with the help of his stick. He usually fixed a sand bag around his one leg to bear the physical burden falling on it and trained hard to acquire high technical skills one after another.
“Ma Yu Chol is a man of great passion. He abhorred the word ‘impossible’ both in training and life,” said Hong Su Gyong, an association official.
Yu Chol fully displayed his techniques in the table tennis competitions of persons with disabilities and amateurs at home, attracting the focus of attention of experts. Later he attended several local competitions and the 2013 Asian games of young persons with disabilities.
Working as a table tennis coach for persons with disabilities from 2019, he is strict in training but friendly and careful in life like the real brother of his players, they say.
“He understands our mind better than any others and devotes himself to us players. All the successes we have achieved are the results of his painstaking efforts,” said Kim Hak Yong, a man with locomotive disability who learns table tennis from Ma.
“It will be quite satisfactory for me if I can return even a bit the favour shown by the country which led me to achieve my dream and help other persons with disabilities realize their dreams like me,” said Ma.