PHOTOS: Survivors on skateboards

By Rohit Lakhani, October 21, 2015

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The first time I set eyes on polio survivors enjoying a game of skate soccer on homemade skateboards in Ghana, I was touched by the spirit of the players to make a difference in their lives. Albert K. Frimpong initiated the activity through his non-governmental organization SYDOGhana (Sports and Youth Development Organization, Ghana) to empower the disabled on the streets. The game is played in downtown Accra at a public car park, and the team is proudly known as the Rolling Rockets.   

Due to their physical limitations and the stigma attached, access to regular jobs is a challenge for many who have been afflicted by polio. Even the use of basic amenities such as public showers and toilets becomes a matter of daily struggle, as they are not designed with the needs of the physically disabled in mind. Despite some of the Rolling Rockets having vocational training and others being experienced traders, most of them have resorted to begging to support their families, some with children. This too is hazardous, as it increases the risk of them getting hit by cars as they meander through traffic in the hope of getting alms from charitable hearts.

Skate soccer is a window of opportunity for equipping this marginalized group with the requisite life skills needed for their development into capable and responsible citizens of society, who can then become agents of change within their community. Their strong spirit moves me, and they play to reiterate that life can be lived beyond perceived limitations.

Survivor on a skateboard.

"From my heart, everybody is welcome, everybody. I don't care, maybe you white, black, everybody come. We are all human beings. Blood goes into our veins, so we are all human beings. I've no problem with anybody, show I don't show difference in my heart." The words of 'Tupac Shakur,' who is disabled from the waist down.

Skate soccer.

Like many of his team, Abdul Fatahi plays with intensity despite his physical challenges. 

Skate soccer in action.

Despite having no fingers, 'Dungu' is not only the fastest, but also an overall fantastic player in the Rolling Rockets.

Polio survivors playing skate soccer.

Skate soccer player Mohammed Abdallah, affectionately known as 'Tupac Shakur,' holds his own during a game against a team of fully able-bodied players.

Repairing a homemade skateboard.

From L-R: 'Smallee' Aminu Yard and 'Dungu' Yussif Hassan repairing a homemade skateboard.

Skate soccer player known as Rasta.

Tahiru Nakluma, a skate soccer player affectionately known as 'Rasta.'

Polio survivors in Ghana.

Dungu' Yussif Hassan was no fingers. He finds a way to hold a spoon while having his meal, waiting to get back in the game.

Skate soccer injury.

An injured player receives makeshift treatment to curb the bleeding from his head, as there are no proper medical facilities on site. He was later taken to hospital.


// Rohit Lakhani is a freelance photographer living in Guangzhou who grew up in Ghana. He first heard about skate soccer while watching a sports program on TV in India in 2013 and made a note of it. Earlier this year, while visiting Accra, he was in a car at a traffic signal when he met one of the players on the street, begging. They became friends. Rohit can be reached at rdlakhani@gmail.com.

A photo exhibition of skate soccer in Ghana will take place from October 24-31 at: Yi-Gather Co-working Space, 68 Zhongshan Qi Lu (Exit D, Ximenkou Station, Metro Line 1), Liwan District, Guangzhou一起开工社区, 广州市荔湾区中山七路68号 地铁1号线 (西门口站D出口) (136 3144 7939) 


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