11 Jan 2011

Quake amputees play football in broken Haiti

1:14 pm on 11 January 2011

They lost legs in Haiti's earthquake last year but that hasn't stopped these young football players in Port-au-Prince.

Sprinting on their crutches at breakneck speed, they project a symbol of hope and resilience in a land where so much is broken.

Playing a weekend warm-up match days before the anniversary of the devastating January 12 quake, the players control the ball artfully with their good legs, avoiding "illegal" contact with their crutches.

The teams train on a dusty pitch near Cite Soleil, Haiti's largest slum on the outskirts of the wrecked capital. They faced off again on Monday in the National Stadium as part of a low-key yet poignant commemoration of the disaster that killed around a quarter of a million people.

Mackendy Francois, whose friends used a hacksaw to cut off his left leg below the knee when they freed him from the rubble of a shirt factory a year ago, says life goes on.

Thousands of people lost limbs in the earthquake, which left more than 1 million Haitians homeless and living in misery in the already poor, calamity-prone Caribbean nation.