Africa's recent history is punctuated with nasty civil wars. Angola, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and others. Most are now over, leaving behind millions of survivors, many short of one or more limbs.
The nimblest in several nations have banded together in football teams and will play each other at a continent-wide tournament in Ghana from November 18th.
The idea is to give hope to amputees, says an organiser, who “might think life has come to an end”.
Amputee football, which was played elsewhere in the world before its African debut in 2003, has its own rules. The tournament in Ghana is seven-a-side; most players are single-leg amputees (although those with one incapacitated leg are also permitted); goalkeepers have one hand.
Samuel Tengbeh, a 28-year-old member of the Liberian team, lost his leg in 1999 during the country’s civil war and long felt demoralised.
“I truly believe we are going to do our best now,” he said. African countries with mostly peaceful histories man their teams with accident victims.
Francis Antwi-Darkwah, a Ghanaian, lost his right leg in a car crash. He believes amputee football allows the disabled to present themselves in a more positive light.
“The community usually looks down on less privileged people,” he said.
Eight countries have confirmed that they are taking part in the tournament: Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
Lindsay Maggs, who is making a documentary film about amputee players, says the sport offers them “a sense of hope, camaraderie and purpose”.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Posted by BA Haller at 8:55 PM