Watch Out, The Gambian Amputee Football Team Has Big Ideas

May 29, 2024

What an amazing achievement! From a small group of five young men playing football on the beach in The Gambia 5 years ago to playing in the African Amputee Cup in Cairo in 2024.

Football has a huge following in The Gambia and these days amputee football is recognised all over the world. The boys playing on the beach came to the attention of STAND (Legs4Africa as it was known then) through Bubaco (Bob) Jabbie who had taken an interest in these energetic young men. Together with the help of Phil, one of the Legs4Africa directors and Chris who is our Project Manager, Bob set about raising awareness on TV, in the local newspaper and on social media to get more amputees involved and, although training can be difficult under the blazing sun, the boys were committed and soon progressed enough to play in the Amputee African Cup of Nations in Tanzania in 2021.

Recently I caught up Ebrima Jallow, one of the founder members of the group and asked him how the team had come about and what playing football means to amputees. Ebrima is a 21 year old Gambian who you will have met before as Bob’s assistant in the article ‘Home Maintenance‘. He is quite clear about the benefits of playing amputee football and he used these benefits to encourage new players to join the weekly training sessions.

Firstly he says, ‘seeing other amputees playing football and doing outside activities on the TV or in the paper makes someone who feels they are incapable and reluctant to go outside say ‘Wow, this guy is playing with one leg – what am I doing, sitting at home?’. So it gives them the courage to come and join us and grow in confidence once they realise they can do it too.

‘Secondly, it shows that it’s not only able-bodied people who can play a part in the development of sport in The Gambia – disabled people have a part to play too and it helps to eradicate any stigma attached to being an amputee.

‘And thirdly, we want to represent The Gambia internationally just like able bodied people are doing so we represented our country in our first competition in the Amputee African Cup of Nations in Tanzania in 2021. We played 5 games, winning 3 so we were ranked 9th place in Africa overall and 3rd place in West Africa after Ghana and Liberia.

‘Seeing people with one leg playing with a lot of talent and having good skills in controlling the ball is so amazing. Football brings us together, gives us courage and confidence and the ability to believe in ourselves. It also proves to people that disability doesn’t mean inability’.

Since I spoke to Ebrima the team has played in the African Amputees Cup of Nations which was held in Cairo in May this year. Although they didn’t reach the World Cup finals this time, they can congratulate themselves on having come so far in just a few short years and I hope they remain undeterred in their ambition to represent The Gambia in the Amputee World Cup in the not too distant future.


About the author

Name: SuePownall

Hey there, I’m Sue! I keep things running smoothly around here, answering all your queries at hello@stand.ngo, coordinating generous leg donors from around the globe with our partners in Africa. I’ve got a keen eye for detail, so I’m also the one catching typos and sprucing up our blogs. When I’m not wielding my admin wand, you’ll find me lost in a good book, doodling away, getting crafty with some sewing, soaking up some ballet or theatre, or just laughing it up with my mates. And yes, I’m often the one bringing the biscuits – because who doesn’t love a good biscuit?

Let our docuseries bring you up to speed.
Image
Marcia lost her leg to diabetes, and now she is able to work again and enjoy her family.
"Each video was inspirational and moving"
Join the wait list to discover stories of resilience and hope 👇🏾

You'll receive 6 short movies, then be added to our ongoing updates. Unsubscribe at any time.