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The New Pistorius? 11-Year-Old Footless Football Star Scouted By Barcelona



An 11-year-old Brazilian boy born without feet has been invited to train at FC Barcelona's youth academy.

After impressing the Spanish football club during a TV appearance on Brazil's TV Globo, the young whiz kid will travel to the Catalonian capital in September.

The Telegraph reports that Muniz wears prosthetic feet but discards them when he plays football, undeterred by players twice his size.

Jose Lopes, Muniz's sports teacher at school, said: "The disability only exists inside our heads and he is proving it to everyone; he is challenging the social norms. To this day there isn't a Paralympics 11-a-side football team, but Gabriel is showing this will have to change, because he wants to play 11-a-side football."

With the Paralympics officially underway in London after Wednesday's opening ceremony, many are hoping misapprehensions regarding disabled sportspeople will change.

South African Oscar Pistorius, who made history two weeks ago when he became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games, spoke to reporters on Tuesday about these changing social norms: "I believe this Paralympic Games is going to change many people's perceptions not just about Paralympic sport, but about people living with disabilities. It is going to completely change people's mindsets.

"There are a lot of people here that don't focus on the disability any more, they focus on the athletes' ability," he said in the Guardian.

Both Muniz and Pistorius open up the debate on fair-play and the right to compete against non-handicapped persons. Pistorius' prosthetic legs sparked controversy before the Olympic Games, with detractors saying they gave the South African an unfair advantage.

Harvey Shapiro, a physician writing in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, said: "Pistorius has become, perhaps by design, an advocate for all disabled athletes. He has challenged an unprepared sports establishment to equip itself with the appropriate science to establish and enforce widely applicable guidelines governing prosthetic devices."

Pistorius made it to the 400-meter semi-final in London and will be competing in four events at the Paralympics, running in the 100m, 200m, 400m and in the 4x100m relay.

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Not Your Grandma's Nonna: How Older Women In Italy Are Reclaiming Their Age

Women in Italy are living longer than ever. But severe economic and social inequality and loneliness mean that they urgently need a new model for community living – one that replaces the "one person, one house, one caregiver" narrative we have grown accustomed to.

Not Your Grandma's Nonna: How Older Women In Italy Are Reclaiming Their Age

Italy is home to many elderly people and few young ones.

Barbara Leda Kenny

ROMENina Ercolani is the oldest person in Italy. She is 112 years old. According to newspaper interviews, she enjoys eating sweets and yogurt. Mrs. Nina is not alone: over the past three years, there has been an exponential growth in the number of centenarians in Italy. With over 20,000 people who've surpassed the age of 100, Italy is in fact the country with the highest number of centenarians in Europe.

Life expectancy at the national level is already high. Experts say it can be even higher for those who cultivate their own gardens, live away from major sources of pollution, and preferably in small towns near the sea. Years of sunsets and tomatoes with a view of the sea – it used to be a romantic fantasy but is now becoming increasingly plausible.

Centenarians occupy the forefront of a transformation taking place in a country where living a long life means being among the oldest of the old. Italy is the second oldest country in the world, and it ranks first in the number of people over eighty. In simple terms, this means that Italy is home to many elderly people and few young ones: those over 65 make up almost one in four, while children (under 14) account for just over one in 10. The elderly population will continue to grow in the coming years, as the baby boomer generation, born between 1961 and 1976, is the country's largest age group.

But there is one important data set to consider when discussing our demographics: in general, women make up a slight majority of the population, but from the age of sixty onwards, the gap progressively widens. Every single Italian over 110 years old is a woman.

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