by Pep Bonet
Sierra Leone’s amputees are a grim legacy of its 1991-2001 civil war. One of the most brutal aspects of the conflict was the use of amputation as a weapon of fear, by both factions. Many of the victims were innocent young men, who were targeted in order to stop them fighting for an opposing side.
At the Murray Town Camp for Amputees in Freetown, at one time home to over 2,000 people mutilated during the war, a group of these young men and boys have come together to form the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club (SLASC). The club has more than 30 members and is recognized by the Sierra Leone Football Association as the un(official) national amputee team. Through soccer, the youths have regained their pride and self-confidence. They aim to play against other international teams and make a living from their sport.
In February 2007, the club – which had already competed in matches in Britain, Russia and Brazil – hosted the first ever All-African Amputee Football Tournament.