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Last Updated: Friday, 16 November 2007, 12:19 GMT
Amputees in Turkey for World Cup
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie
BBC Sport

Sierra Leone amputee football team in action
Sierra Leone's amputee football team aim to make an impression

Three African countries are currently representing the continent at the second Amputee Football World Cup in Antalya, Turkey.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana qualified for the biennial tournament by virtue of finishing in the top three places at the first African Amputees Nations Cup in Freetown earlier in the year.

Nigeria were also due to participate in the Turkey tournament, but have pulled out due to lack of finances.

Sierra Leone were on the verge of pulling out for the same reason, but a local United Nations office came through to provide funding for the week-long trip.

Sierra Leone are the most experienced side among the African countries at the tournament.

They were the only African country to take part in the maiden edition of Amputee Football World Cup in Brazil in 2005.

They have also participated in several international competitions in Europe.

Sierra Leone coach Moses Mambo expects his team to make the most of their experience.

"We're no strangers to most of the European and American countries in the Championship as we've played against them before," Mambo told BBC Sport.

"We are going to make good use of the things we know about them.

"We've prepared well this time round and we'll try very hard to lift Sierra Leone and Africa high in the Championship."

Sierra Leone do have a tough task on their hands.

At the inaugural African Amputees Nations Cup held on home soil earlier this year, they could only manage third place.

Ghana won the tournament while Liberia were runners-up.

We've prepared well this time round and we'll try very hard to lift Sierra Leone and Africa high in the Championship.
Moses Mambo, Sierra Leone coach

But winning is only incidental in amputee football.

After all, the main objective of the game is to make amputees forget their plight and help them realize they are still a valuable part of society.

Sierra Leone captain Mbayoh Conteh is already feeling just that.

"We've been really encouraged to forget about what we suffered during our war by playing amputee football," Conteh told BBC Sport.

He added: "We feel like part of the society again and like our slogan reads 'we are able people but not disable'."

The Sierra Leone team are victims of the decade-long civil war in which they had limbs amputated.

It is the same story for most members of the Liberian team.

Amputee football is a six-a-side game played by those with one leg using crutches.

The goalkeeper can have both legs, but only one arm.

The tournament ends on 20 November.

SEE ALSO
African amputees' cup kicks off
09 Feb 07 |  Africa
Amputee team inspires Sierra Leone
21 Dec 04 |  Football


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