Attacking, defending, running, dribbling, scoring, and goal keeping; it’s the complete sport of football. Only, this time, there are no  lush green grasses, only white beach sand. And the players? Limbless men, all victims of war. A constant tangible reminder of the ills of the over a decade long Sierra Leonean war.

Football, has become the succour for most of the amputees, who have over the years developed a passion for the sport, and have gone on to form local football clubs – the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club (SLASC), the Flying Stars Amputee Football Club, the Flying Eagles, and a few others.

These victims of war, turned footballers, owe their sport career to an American amputee,Dee Malchow. Dee Malchow was on a mission work in Sierra Leone to help de-traumatize war victims, who at the time roamed the streets begging. Today, Sierra Leone boasts of formidable amputee football teams that have participated in several football tournaments around the world.

These tournaments helped create international awareness, and global recognition, that led to the creation of the World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF), and recently inspired the creation of a documentary –The Flying Stars. The documentary is a complex character study of Bornor Kargbo, captain of The Flying Stars football team in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Bornor Kargbo Credit – JohnnyVong

Kargbo is a remarkable man who leads an inspiring life; a soldier in the national army during the civil war, who today still wrestles with the trauma of losing his left leg. As a husband, and father of four, Kargbo is haunted by the responsibility to cater to the needs of his family.

As captain, Kargbo is a ferocious player with an inspiring spirit, leading amputee players over the past decade to victory on soccer pitches across Africa and the world.

“When I started training, people would say, ‘Oh, this guy has one leg. How can he play football?’ But I did not listen to anybody,” says Bornor, who taught himself to play on crutches and has now competed in three amputee World Cups on three continents.

The Flying Stars is co-directed by Allan Tong and Sierra Leonean born Ngardy Conteh George. The feature documentary which won the Telefilm Canada Pitch This! Competition at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2011, is supported by grants from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.

The inspiring documentary premieres on Sunday, 13 September, at 2230GMT on Witness, Al Jazeera’s observational documentary strand, with repeats on 14 September at 0930, 15 September 0330, 16 September 1630 and 17 September 0530GMT.

Source: Hadassah Egbedi, Ventures Africa

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