With all the debate both about how war is photographed and about Africa is photographed, this African football tournament for amputees injured in war seems like an interesting story to tell as an alternative narrative.

Football is immensely popular in the continent, and sport is often used as a strong tool by which to help sustain the motivation of people to rebuild their lives after tragedy or hardship. It’s also something that’s universally understood.

Players from Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone are taking part.

Lindsay Maggs is making a documentary film about the tournament. I’d be interested to see that. I’d like to hope the WPP would be similarly interested in viewing it.

  • Actually this is right up the judges of World Press Photos street. Pep Bonet won an award for a series in Seirra Leone. One of the VII photogs did a series on the same theme for International Red Cross.

  • Like Ben, I’ve seen a few of these stories. Many are good, including, say, Tim Hetherington’s early work in Sierra Leone. They deserve to be told.

    There are also risks, as in any case. Dealing repeatedly with the victims of war in this way can just be the other side of the coin to the dominant war coverage. We have to be careful to tell stories of ‘Africa’ (a mythical place) that deal with more than lack and distress. And we have to avoid creating new stereotypes in the form of always turning to something like football.

  • Peter Dench got a very unlikely assignment to photograph football by FIFA, and it included quite a bit of African amputee football: http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/project/1650844/football-international

  • I’d agree that the combination of football, war and Africa (or football, war, disability and Africa) is in danger of becoming a new media cliche – it seems to be the obvious alternative story that a lot of people turn to.

    However, that’s not to say it can’t work when done well. I’ve just watched a cracking sport/disability documentary that I’d thoroughly recommend – it’s about Gaza not Africa and it features aspiring paralympians. It has taught me something I didn’t know about the region and the conflict and society there

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