About an hour’s drive south of Banjul, in the town of Seracunda, lies the grounds of the Gambian Wheelchair Basketball Team. Here, in a tiny sports centre, athletes from across the nation meet up every week to train.
Many of these players fit the training around professional careers as teachers, mechanics or doctors. For others, the community of the court is the only respite they have from a life of begging on the streets. Regardless of their backgrounds, these individuals combine to make a tightly bonded squad, united by the exclusion and social stigma so often faced by people with disabilities in The Gambia.
Training on cracked and weathered tarmac, they make do with the most rudimentary equipment. Nonetheless, they consistently perform well in tournaments hosted by neighbouring countries, and during our visit, many of the players expressed aspirations to reaching the Paralympics in Rio.
While this may sound like a faraway dream, every member of this team has proven that surmounting barriers is a way of life, and it is impossible not to be inspired by their energy and passion. With competition-grade wheelchairs, some second-hand equipment or even a little funding to cover court maintenance and competition transport costs, who knows how far they could come?
If you or anyone you know can help this team access the equipment or funding to propel their game up to the next level, then please get in touch. We regularly collect and ship second-hand prosthetics and mobility equipment, and we’d love to add some sports equipment to the inventory.
On behalf of myself, Legs 4 Africa, and the Gambian Wheelchair Basketball Team: a massive, heartfelt thank you.