Zorro of Sinaloa: Berc Zorian

Born in Sivas, Zara in 1944, Berc Zorian became a prominent figure in amputee football in South America. We talked to him about his life that reached to Mexico and memories of football.

An award in South America Amputee Football Championship is named after Berc Zorian, who worked as a coach for amputee football teams. Organization committee of the championship, which was held on November, announced that this award will be given in next years too. 

Born in Sivas, Zara in 1944, Berc Zorian became a prominent figure in amputee football in South America. We talked to him about his life that reached to Mexico and memories of football.

After having gone through Karagözyan and Tıbrevank, Zorian immigrated to the US. He started his football career in Taksim Sports Club: “When I was 13-14, I played for the youth squad of Taksim, then for Taksim A Team, when I was 17 years old. It was not possible to go to Tıbrevank and not playing football. I had no money; I was jumping over the walls of the school and running to Üsküdar and taking the ferry for attending the trainings in Şeref Staduim. I was rushing back to school for morning classes and Şahan Sırpazan was beating me up… I had done all of these only for football.”

Mr. Bennett’s offer

In 1970, Zorian accepted the transfer offer of Homenetmen in California and immigrated to the US. Here is his story of becoming a coach for amputee teams: “In 2010, we moved to Mazatlan city in Mexico, which is the birthplace of my wife. One day, a man named Don Bennett came to me; he was living in Seattle and had lost his leg because of an accident. My neighbors told him that I used to play football. He was an agent of WAFF (World Amputee Football Federation). He said that they organize amputee football in 28 countries and they want to organize it in Mexico too and asked me to help them. However, I had no knowledge on amputee football. He said that it is not about football; their purpose was to make the young people cling to life. I asked time for thinking and I saw him off. About ten minutes later, I saw a story on TV. My wife interpreted it for me, since I didn’t have a good understanding of Spanish at that time. It was about a young man named Alejandro, who lost his leg at the age of 16 and delivers pizza in order to take care of his grandmother. Before the accident, he was a boxer and won medals, and his biggest dream was to become a football player. I stood aghast in front of TV. I immediately called Mr. Bennett and told him that we can start working tomorrow.” 

Meeting Alejandro

Berc Zorian also told how he met Alejandro, who was his reason for becoming a coach for amputee players. “After coming to terms with Mr. Bennett, we headed to Alejandro’s house. It was impossible to enter their street, it was like a dump. No electricity, no water; their windows and doors were covered with paper… He wasn’t home the first time we went there. We informed the neighbors that we will come tomorrow again around the same time. Other day, 20-25 people welcomed us. They were all dressed up, did their hair, and wore sunglasses. After a brief conversation, I told Alejandro that I will form an amputee football team and he will be my first player. He hugged me; it was a priceless moment. He said that he has two amputee friends and I met them after two days. Media covered our story and I had 100 amputee players in 3 weeks. We dealt the mayor, governor and sportsmen of Sinaloa and we transferred 18 amputee players from other cities. After that, they named me Zorro of Sinaloa, though I didn’t want them to do so.”

Zorian formed the amputee team in Mazatlan on November 2010 and invited US National Amputee Team to Mexico on March 2011. “We hosted them for 5 days. We played in front of 3700 audiences. After 2 months, we enthusiastically launched the second amputee team in Guadalajara, which is the second biggest city in Mexico. I formed an administrative committee consisting of 7 people under the name of Mexico Amputee Football Federation (AMFA). In 2012, I was invited to World Amputee Football Championship in Russia as a guest of honor.”

The story that was started with miraculous coincidences continues with willpower. All we can do is to be inspired by the fact that one person can create a new life for many people.

El Zorro Award

Amputee Football World Cup 2014 was held in Mexico. At this year’s South America Amputee Football Championship, an award was given that is named after Zorian. “One month before the championship, administrative committee of Copa America decided to give “El Zorro- Berc Zorian” Award to the best player of the championship, because of my contributions to amputee football in Mexico and in the world. This is a great honor for me and my family.”

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Vartan Estukyan