Football Unites All Ugandans, Even the Disabled

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Amputations or the inability to walk are no reason to sit on the sidelines. As children gathered, the men began to include them in the drill. Though curious, many were happy to join in.

In Uganda disabilities are still often kept behind closed doors. However, a number of players refuse to let public stigma stop them. These pictures are the first part of a two part series on parasports in Uganda. Taken during a citywide sports day, I wanted to capture not just the curiosity of onlookers, but the indifference of the disabled players. Comfortable and happy in their own skin, they took over the field, shouting, laughing and playing football on their own terms.

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Children watch as a man with a foot disorder practices his kicks. Seeing adults with disabilities is uncommon in Uganda, and many are afraid of the disabled due to lack of exposure.

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The football team carries out drills as their opponents warm up. For players on crutches, one crutch is often used in place of their foot, while the momentum of their swinging legs is used for balance.

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A child watches as a man inspects his prosthetic leg. Prosthetic legs are still rare in Uganda and attaching one in public is virtually unheard of.

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Parasport football players battle on the field. The playing can get intense and at times the athletes hit the ground. Because they are disabled the crowd often gasps loudly and becomes especially worried. However one player told me, “What is going to happen? Shall I become more paralyzed? People don’t need to worry so much. We can be tough”

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