In a culture with little community support for polio survivors, para-soccer has brought joy and purpose into the lives of Nigerian polio survivors.
Created in 1988, by Nigerian polio survivor Misbahu Lawan Didi, the sport has few financial sponsors, but has spread to other countries on the continent.
Para-soccer has become a source of strength and freedom for polio survivors. Somewhere between the ball, the skateboard and the hard ground, they have carved a space of their own.
The game is physically and mentally exhausting, and the asphalt on which they play scratches at the skin, sometimes stripping it off altogether. To play, para soccer players sits on a small wooden scooter —a twelve-inch wooden square with four swiveling wheels — which is how many polio survivors in Nigeria get around. Scooter users propel themselves forward by pushing their hands on the ground.
Para-soccer is also being used as a tool to spread awareness about polio and the importance of vaccinations. Every year on World Polio Day there is a national para-soccer championship. Through para-soccer, survivors who would otherwise be begging on the streets are able to make some money to help support their families.