On a busy weekend in Freetown, Sierra Leone, dozens of individuals collect to look at a day soccer match not in contrast to numerous others you’d discover anyplace else on the planet. However there’s one placing distinction – these gamers are all amputees.
They’re members of the Single Leg Amputee Sports activities Affiliation (SLASA), a company co-founded by pastor Mambud Samai in 2001 after he returned dwelling towards the tip of Sierra Leone’s lethal civil battle, which lasted from 1991 to 2002 and killed at the very least 50,000 individuals throughout the nation. 1000’s extra had been left with lacking limbs throughout a brutal marketing campaign to terrify the civilian inhabitants.
After coming throughout a refugee camp stuffed with tons of of amputees, Samai felt compelled to assist. “At the moment, there have been no actions like trauma restoration for them. So, amputees believed that after they misplaced their limbs and their legs, they haven’t any future, they haven’t any alternative. So, I volunteered myself to provide them confidence,” he stated.
Whereas on the refugee camp, he met an American missionary who launched him to a type of adaptive soccer. After exhibiting the amputees how one can play, the response was overwhelming and SLASA was fashioned, “to provide hope to the amputees, to provide confidence to the amputees, and to permit them to turn out to be ambassadors of peace,” Samai stated.
In accordance with the World Amputee Soccer Federation, gamers can not use prosthetics and as a substitute energy throughout the sector on crutches. Every staff has seven gamers on the sector at a time, with outfield gamers solely having one leg and goalkeepers solely having one arm.
A number of SLASA gamers have since gone on to compete in worldwide packages together with the World Amputee Soccer Championships, Amputee Africa Cup of Nations, and the Open European Amputee Soccer Championship.
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“Most of them at the moment are very proud that they’ll signify their nation at worldwide competitions,” Samai stated. “They’re contributing one thing again to society.”
Samai says the game is just not solely a superb type of train, however it unites gamers and serves as a “remedy” for battle victims to face their shared trauma. “We attempt to give them hope after which give them the credibility that they’re helpful, they’re necessary to society,” he stated.
Ali Badara Kamara is a goalkeeper within the SLASA league. He says he’s grateful for the life-changing alternatives he’s obtained. “My mom was afraid (for) me to play soccer as a result of she sees me as an amputee. She thought that if I fell on the ground, I’d have one other downside,” he says. “However SLASA (has) taken me to Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania.”
Kamara is likely one of the greater than 80 million individuals with disabilities residing throughout the continent. In accordance with the United Nations, that determine consists of these with psychological well being circumstances, start defects and different bodily impairments. With assistive units typically unavailable or unaffordable, many discover employment arduous to come back by and are left begging on the streets.
Whereas soccer matches solely final 90 minutes, Samai’s newest mission is to discover a approach to assist amputees past the pitch.
“My ardour (is) to make it possible for each life, regardless of your incapacity or regardless of your background, that you’ll be able to be completely satisfied and you’ll be able to smile on the finish of the day,” Samai stated.
To attain that, SLASA works carefully with the Nationwide Rehabilitation Middle in Sierra Leone and companions with worldwide organizations like SwissLimbs to supply prosthetics for amputees and prepare native technicians.
In 2018, Samai traveled to Japan to check sustainable agriculture management and group improvement. Upon his return, he started providing lessons on sustainable agriculture by means of SLASA.
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SLASA additionally assesses members’ schooling and supplies studying sources to these in want. Its aim is to get extra amputees off the streets and supply them with a protected technique to make a residing for themselves and their households.
Up to now, Samai says SLASA has immediately assisted 350 amputees, and hopes to develop that quantity. The final word aim is to construct a regulation pitch and rehabilitation middle of its personal.
“We would like Sierra Leone to compete with one other nations when it comes to improvement,” Samai stated. “We consider that disabled individuals shouldn’t be left behind.”
Watch the total episode of African Voices that includes Mambud Samai right here.