A football team for victims of landmines, called The Lebanese Landmine Survivors Team, was launched in 2001 by the The Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped (LWAH), to bring survivors together once a week to play football and help cope with their injuries.
Today the group is still developing and the players play with their prosthetic limbs on. They even play against teams from other associations who do not suffer handicaps. The team is comprised of 15 players and aims to gather as many young people as possible who suffer war injuries and help them develop psychologically and socially. The team is the only one of its kind in Lebanon and the Arab World. Even on a world level, there aren’t any teams that play while wearing prosthetic limbs.
Today Lebanon is relatively peaceful, but a 15-year civil war and conflicts with neighboring countries, such as Israel and Syria, have left unexploded land mines and cluster munitions across swathes of the tiny country. Between 1975-2012 these unexploded devices killed 903 people and injured a further 2,780. The Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a British NGO that works to clear unexploded ordinances in Lebanon, says that the number of accidents has recently increased.
The Lebanese Mine Action Centre (LMAC) aims to clear all cluster munitions by 2016 and almost all land mines by 2020. However, it is likely that these deadlines will not be met. When the land mines were laid, mostly during Lebanon’s civil war, no record of the locations was kept. It is impossible to know how many of the 4m cluster bombs that Israel fired on Lebanon during the 2006 war, failed to explode and still remain a danger.
(Man, Arabic): Dr. Bachir Abdul Hak, coach of the Lebanese survivor team:
(02:10) We had the idea of establishing this team in the Lebanese welfare association for the handicapped in the 1998, but we did not execute it until the year of 2000. We believe that all young men who suffer from a certain handicap need the physical and the athletic exercise to help them build their bodies, improve their physical and psychological health, and get out of their isolation. that is how the idea started, to provide a service that would help them socially and psychologically. (02:52)
(03:32) The team became like a family to me, we have been together for 14 years,all the children you see in the filed were born with us. i care a lot about this team and I give it all my time, and effort because it deserves the attention from us to be able to succeed. (05:52)
(Man, English) Ali Srour, player, 31 year old civil servant, from Aita al-Chaab, South of Lebanon. he lost his leg in a hunting trip near his village in 2001:
(Woman, English) Habiba Aoun, Coordinator of Land-mine research center (Balamand University)