Disabled but Able
Theodore Kwaku Viwotor
Accra, Ghana - Oct 2007
It has become common place to see the disabled positioning themselves at various points in town asking for alms. However, for a group of young men who through one unfortunate incident or another have become disabled; their current state is not a barrier to the expression of their God given talents.
Every evening between 1600 and 1800 hours Richard Eshun who has had his left arm amputated, joins fellow amputees at a field near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to play football; to the delight of passers by.
Richard has to be a goal keeper because the rules do not allow him to play in an outfield position. Only those who have one leg/ foot disabled are eligible to play outfield, whilst those with one arm disabled are able to play as goal keepers.
“I used to play football some years back until I was involved in a driving accident and I lost my arm. I had not learnt any trade besides driving so I could not work. I know I can still drive, even in this condition but the law does not allow it” Eshun said.
Most of the players who train at this field are part of the ‘Ghanaian Amputee National Team’. They are training feverishly for the Amputee Soccer World Cup that will be held this November in Turkey. After watching the footballers play Richard decided to approach them to see if he could join. “I thought I could put my talent to good use by training with them and hopefully secure a place in the national team,” he said.
The team won the last African Cup in Freetown Sierra Leone in January 2007 after beating Liberia 3-1 in the finals. Many of the players from that winning squad went on to start their own ventures. They were able to finance their commercial activities by using the bonuses they received from that tournament; for instance, some bought sewing machines which they are using to make a living.
“I hope to be included in the final team for this year’s World Cup so that when I come back I can also make a meaningful living from the money I earn,” Eshun said. Kelvin, another player who has just completed an IT software course is looking forward to starting a hardware course after which he intends working in an ICT firm or setting up his own enterprise.
At present, the necessary support the players need to train well is not forthcoming but they don’t seem to be deterred at all by that. One thing Eshun and his colleagues are demonstrating is that through their example, disability does not have to mean inability.