A moment frozen in time – a beautifully curved ball launched from ten meters away, targeting the top left corner of the goal. All eyes locked on as the ball soared, but in an instant, it was swiftly blocked with cat-like reflexes. The crowd erupted in awe, marking an unforgettable moment. Meet Eman Sulaeman, Indonesia’s remarkable 30-year-old World Cup goalkeeper, defying expectations as he propels his country to sixth place among 48 participating nations.
In life, we often learn the valuable lesson of perseverance, knowing that our struggles are never in vain. While it may sound cliché, this inspiration resonates with each of us, urging us to embrace the meaning and worthiness of our own journeys.
In 2016, our friend Rizki Kurniawan, the manager of Indonesia HWC, presented us with a unique challenge: creating custom boots for the Homeless World Cup event in Glasgow. This endeavor proved demanding, as it deviated from our usual boot designs. With limited time and no prior experience in crafting sports shoes, especially those tailored for special needs, doubts and concerns surfaced. However, fueled by spirit and passion, we decided to embrace the challenge that inspired us.
Eman Sulaeman’s life journey is not only an inspiration to us, but to the world at large. Born without legs and with only one full foot, he faced an arduous challenge. Yet, his disability never dampened his passion for realizing his dream of playing football.
Quoting Eman from his interview on the Homeless World Cup website, “I have always loved football. It has allowed me to overcome barriers, including discrimination that I faced since childhood. Coming from a humble background, I have experienced poverty and its challenges. But I have always strived to do my best, learn, and develop myself to overcome these obstacles. Football has given me confidence in my life.”
Playing football barefoot was a common practice for Eman due to the difficulty of finding suitable footwear and the cost of custom orders. However, the HWC tournament rules necessitated the use of footwear, leading teams and management to create shoes specifically designed for him. We feel privileged to have contributed to this unforgettable experience.
For this shoe design, we utilized unlined pull-up leather, ensuring flexibility and ease of movement. With varying heights of approximately 9 and 6 inches to accommodate Eman’s different legs, we strived to enhance gestures. Additionally, a rubber pad was added to the bottom area for improved traction control. The construction technique employed in creating these boots resembles that of crafting baby shoes, employing a sturdy blake stitch construction to withstand heavy friction. Over time, the height of the boots was reduced to around 4 inches to enhance mobility. This adjustment, combined with the meticulous design, facilitated Eman’s outstanding performance as the best goalkeeper in the HWC.
WHERE IS EMAN NOW?
Presently, driven by his love for the world of football, Eman has established his football school (SSB) in his hometown of Majalengka. It is an honor and an extraordinary experience for us to have played a role in bringing his dreams to life. Eman’s achievements defy limitations that may seem insurmountable to some, serving as a continued inspiration for us as we strive to create shoes that accompany individuals in their unstoppable pursuit of possibilities in every situation.