Sporting Leg-ends

Bethany / Football, Uganda

Saturday November 9th saw the third annual Kampala Capital City Authority Para-sports Gala – a day of celebration for adaptive sports and people with disabilities.  The event was specifically for disability sports in the Kampala region with each of the divisions competing against one another in wheelchair basketball, seated volleyball, deaf football and amputee football.

Players, organisers and friends!
Second from the left is Alex Munyambabazi and centre is Charlie Mujini formed the newly registered Uganda Amputee Self-Help Network who volunteer their time offering amputees peer to peer support. Here they are with some the Nakawa Amputee Football Team.

At 3pm amputee football kicked off. Federation for Uganda Amputee Football Association President Kitimbo Lawrence came along to officiate and Mugerwa Alex, Secretary for the federation was Kewempe Amputee Football Club’s team captain. Their opposition was Nakawa Amputee Football Team lead by captain Bumbuli Isaac. Munyambabazi Alex from the Uganda Amputee Self-Help Network was also playing for Nakawa.

Kitimbo (left) is the current President of the Federation of Uganda Amputee Football and Munyambabzi (right) player for Nakawa Amputee Football Team and founder of the Uganda Amputee Self-Help Network

The game drew an impressive crowd who lined the adjacent street, something Amputee Football Federation president Kitimbo Lawrence strives for as he sees the sport as integral part of sensitizing the wider community to limb loss. Lawrence, now twenty-four, was involved in a road traffic accident when he was fourteen in which there were multiple fatalities, one of whom was Lawrence’s brother. Actively participating in the progression of the sport is Lawrence’s way of celebrating being given a second chance but also to commemorate the lives that were taken far too soon.

Plenty of interest in the football match from passers by. Unsurprising as there was more than just this one epic going to ground!
Amputee Football has it’s own set of pitch dimensions, goal size and the number of players on the pitch is seven instead of eleven

Similarly for Munyambabazi Alex who survived a landmine blast in 2005, had always led an active lifestyle, he continues to pursue his sporting passions proving to other amputees and able bodied persons alike that “life goes on… From the time I completed my military training I was on the front line. I lost my leg but I saw my friends lose their lives so every day I don’t just live for myself; I live for them too.”

Amputees are not permitted to wear their prosthesis when playing amputee football

Kalibbala Mark who visited HQ with the Mulago staff in May was participating in the wheelchair basketball. Mark had just returned from Nairobi where the national wheelchair basketball team were competing in the East African Zone V Championship Players of the sport do not have to be full time wheelchair users so anyone who qualifies as having a lower limb disability can play.

Mark waiting to be called on the court.
The wheelchairs used for wheelchair basketball are difficult to get hold of in Uganda, not to mention expensive, so players share the limited number of chairs they have

Double amputee Kevin, who represented Kewempe Division had both legs amputated when he was just three months old as a result of contracting polio. He explained that he had a set of prosthesis made but the limited resources and the presentation of his stumps meant that he found them uncomfortable and unstable. Kevin hasn’t given up hope of one day having legs but until then he celebrates the capabilities of his body as it is by playing wheelchair basketball and defending his title as National Wheelchair Racing Champion.

Wheelchair basketball player and Ugandan wheelchair racing champion Kevin at Saturday’s KCCA Para-sport Gala
Kevin and team mate Joseph showcasing their focus and athleticism on the court

Joining the festivities were students from the Uganda School for the Deaf and Uganda School for the Physically Handicapped.

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