Carrying crutches as they pass the ball and practice dribbling, a group of about 20 Gambian one-legged football players have recently formed their Amputee Football team that aspires to start a national team for disabled footballers in the country and dreams of joining the African Amputee Football cup of nations one day.
“The dream is to produce a national amputee football team that will compete in major international competitions, “said Bubacarr Jabbie, the manager of the team.
The Gambia is yet to have a national amputee football team and Jabbie is hoping that the country will soon produce a strong side to compete at the world stage.
“Amputee football is developing and gaining recognition worldwide, so we wish that our dream will come true, “he tells The Chronicle. “I want the Gambia to be on the amputee world stage like other countries. We have the players who can do it if they have the support.”
Players most of them from the west coast region, joins the team training. They have to wake up at dawn at least three times a week for training at the Fajara beach. “Players are very active on training. Most of them live very far, but because of the passion they have for the game, they are always here training.
Bubacarr, however calls on the government to allocate a playing field for amputee football. “We’ve recently had a meeting with the minister of youth sports about having a football field. He’s willing to help us and we cannot wait to have a field where our players will conduct proper trainings. We shouldn’t be training at the beach side because we are not a beach soccer team.”
Gambia’s Female Amputee Footballer to Look Out For
Despite being an amputee, Fatou Sanneh, 21, has managed to be part of a would-be Gambia National Amputee Women’s football team.
She lost her left leg when she was 19 years old in a car accident. Recalling the incident, she says, the pain was unbearable, and she still feels it. “Sometimes it hurts when I train hard. But I can’t stop, I have to get going.”
Fatou is among a few young female amputee footballers in the country. Growing up, she built a strong passion for football. “I’ve always wanted to be a footballer,” Fatou tells The Chronicle. “When you lose your leg at a young age, you think you’ll never be able to do any sport, but I challenged myself to be strong, I got used to it and started playing. So, right now I am concentrating on my training programs and hopes the Gambia have a national female amputee football team soon.”
Fatou is very determined and focused, team manager Jabbie tells The Chronicle. Fatou is also a versatile footballer, she can play both defensive and attacking roles. I hope she will be a source of inspiration to other physically challenged young women out there to take up football as a career.”