Courage on crutches | Amputee footballers and the Gospels

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Copyright © 2005 Ken Shulman. Link to report on Single Leg Amputee Soccer Club of Sierra Leone.Freetown, Sierra Leone | A group of amputee footballers sing of brotherhood, drawing words from the Gospel of Matthew, in a report compiled by Ken Shulman for WBUR of Boston’s Only a Game. The Single-Leg Amputee Soccer Club practices on Aberdeen beach in Freetown, attracting onlookers. Several teams of amputees exist throughout the country, a legacy of civil war. SLASC goalkeeper Jabatih Mambu tells Shulman of losing a hand at 14 to axe-wielding fighters looking for recruits. “I removed my student ID card and showed it to the man. He was annoyed, and he said, ‘Well, I’m now going to chop off your right hand, because you use it to write.’ ” A midfielder for the team notes that amputee soccer is still physical. Players at a recent world championship in Brazil, he says, would deliberately knock crutches out from under players to gain an advantage.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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