A group of single-legged young men, all victims of Sierra Leone's brutal civil war in which thousands lost arms, legs and other body parts, has come together for encouragement and hope. They are Sierra Leone's national amputees soccer team.
They play with just one foot each while balancing only on the crutches. But their skills are breathtaking all the same.
"We started playing (soccer) as a social game after we became envious of other boys with two legs," said Victor Musa, of the Sierra Leone Single Leg Amputees Sports Club.
"Now we don't feel that disabled anymore; we can play football too," said Musa.
Today they are a professional team, and last year they came in third at the World Cup single-leg soccer tournament in Brazil.
The sport has helped to spread a message of hope.
"We are happy that we can get together and encourage each other," said Mohamed Lappia, who stepped on a mine that shattered his leg.
Saidu Mansaray, 22, is the team's goalie. He has both his legs, but he catches the ball with one hand because the four non-thumb fingers of the other hand were chopped off with an axe.
The team struggles to find money for transportation to attend practice sessions, let alone pay for soccer shoes. Most play with threadbare sneakers, but that does not dampen their spirits.
As for Liberia's ex-president Charles Taylor, accused of sponsoring the war and facing a war crimes trial at a UN-backed court in Sierra Leone, team captain Fornah said, "If he is found guilty, he should spend the rest of his life in jail." (AFP)
1. How did the soccer players lose their legs?
a. In a bad operation.
b. In soccer accidents.
c. In a war.
2. The team started playing socially, but today it is ...
a. well paid.
3. At the tournament in Brazil, the team ...
a. played against teams with two-legged players.
b. couldn't afford to play.
c. took third place.
4. How many legs does the team's goalie have?
Ans: 1.c 2.b 3.c 4.b