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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Feature: The story of the Gambian Amputee Football Team

There’s not much that will get many people up at 7.30 on a Sunday morning.

Yet for members of the Gambian Amputee Football Team (GAFT) this is standard practice, as they’re itching to head down to the beautiful surroundings of Senegambia Beach with manager Bob Jabbie to train.

The team started five months ago thanks to the Gambian Amputee Association, who through its work with Legs4Africa on a UKAID project realised that there were amputees in The Gambia who wanted to play amputee football but there were no teams playing the sport.

So what started as 4-5 amputees meeting for a kickabout has developed into 14 players meeting Saturdays and Sundays to train; who didn’t believe they’d be playing football again.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are amputees in Gunjur, Janjanbureh region and beyond who would love to get involved too.

As such the GAFT has the chance to get amputees playing a sport they love, whilst showing the people of The Gambia the ability that amputees have to compete in a physically demanding and exciting game.

At the end of July the GAFT had their first exhibition match in Casamance with the Bignona Parasports Society.

The game was won 6-1 by the GAFT, with some great goals by Yusupha Trawally, Musa Sanyang, Malick Badjie and Ebrima Jallow.

The match showcased GAFT’s potental and shocked many of the Casamance locals, who couldn’t believe the quality of the Gambian players (man of the match was Malik Badjie according to a group of Bignona youths) and the pace of the sport.

This game has given the team a desire to beat other more established opposition. And with amputee football teams in Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana there’s regional competition ready to be challenged.

With the team being newly formed and the sport in its infancy here, resources, infrastructure and capacities are big challenges, which will hopefully be overcome through local and international support.

With this support, the team’s ultimate dream is to bring a trophy back from Amputee AFCON, the Amputee World Cup or the Paralympics next year.

Which will give The Gambia something to hold on to whilst the Scorpions prepare for AFCON 2021…

If anybody would like to get involved in playing amputee football or supporting the GAFT please call Bob Jabbie on 7747750.

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