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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 16:24 GMT
African amputees play for peace
Ledgerhood Rennie
BBC Sport, Monrovia

Liberia amputees versus Sierra Leone amputees
Sierra Leone beat their Liberian counterparts 2-0

Another milestone in Liberian football has been reached as the first international match between amputees was successfully played in Monrovia.

The recent civil wars in Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone did not only kill thousands of people but it left many people maimed.

Now though, with peace finally a reality, those most affected by the violence have turned to football to help them recover from the trauma of war.

As a result football clubs made up amputees from the war were formed in the aftermath of both conflicts, which led to the formation of national teams.

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was joined by thousands of her fellow countrymen on Sunday to watch the maiden international match of their country's amputees' when they clashed with their counterparts from Sierra Leone.

Even though the players are physically challenged they managed to produce moments of dizzying skill that wowed the fans.

And despite the 2-0 defeat suffered by the home side, the result was not important for both sides.

"We are so happy for our brothers in Liberia," Victor Musa, Sierra Leone captain told BBC Sport.

"This match is for the building of peace between Liberia and Sierra Leone and we are happy to be a part of bringing peace in the Mano River."

But during the game it was clear that Liberia was the least experienced side after being formed in November 2006.

"These are our brothers and we are happy that they came to play with us," the Liberian captain Boye Khykie said.

"We just started two months ago so we are not discouraged."

The visitors, who formed their team in 2001, wasted no time by imposing themselves on the game and took the lead in the 2nd minute thanks to a penalty converted by star player Amadou "El-Hadji Diouf" Kamara after he was brought down.

The Sierra Leoneans doubled their lead in the second half after tormentor-in-chief Kamara outwitted two Liberian defenders for Maxwell Formah to score.

Kamara, who was part of the Sierra Leone team that toured England in 2004, was thrilled to have passed his experiences to the Liberians.

"This is my first time to Liberia a country I love so much as we are one people and I'm happy I scored as I did when we travelled to England" the left-footed Kamara said.

Liberia President was thrilled that football is being used by the single-leg footballers after a series of horrifying events and scarring rebel incursions in which amputation was common practice.

"It was an awesome effort to bring our respective societies disadvantaged to show that they too can be normal and they too can contribute in whatever way to their societies."

"It is a win-win situation for both countries and these ex-combatants who now know that they are fully accepted in society can be constructive."

The teams are seeking further development and more international competitions.



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