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Amputee Soccer Takes Hold in Haiti
January 12, 2011

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The 2010 Haiti Earthquake
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One year after the devastating 7.1 earthquake that leveled large parts of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital isn't exactly thriving but has begun to show signs of recovery.

The quake, which killed thousands of people and injured many more, was a trigger for a worldwide outpouring of financial aid and moral support. Haiti, already one of the world's poorest countries, was hit particularly by the earthquake, particularly in the area of medical care, which was in some ways suspect long before the 2010 quake.

Many people were trapped in rubble after the earth stopped shaking. Some of those people escaped relatively unscathed. Others who escaped paid the price of an amputated arm or leg. Some of the people who lost a leg are now thriving on the soccer field, part of a recently formed Haiti Men's Amputee National Team. The players have one leg and one crutch, but the game looks familiar — one ball, two goals, and some lines on a field.

Amputee soccer has been around since 1980. Nations around the world play, and many get together every two years for a world cup. (The current champion Uzbekistan, which defeated host Argentina in the final in 2010.)

The goalie has two legs, but he's the only one so advantaged. The other players must leave prosthetic legs on the sideline when they suit up.

The Haitian national team now has 15 players, some of whom are earthquake refugees who lost their limbs in the rubble. The team played in the world cup but won no matches. However, the international exposure they gained might just translate into more aid — for the players' rehabilitation, medical care, and even aid for their families.

Such results would have been thought rare a few years ago, in a country in which disabilities are a source of stigma, not a requirement for participation on a national sports team.



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