Wheelchair basketball gives new hope to disabled Afghan women

An Afghan member of the Mazar-i-Sharif wheelchair basketball team plays against the team from Kabul during the final of the country's third annual competition in Kabul on October 29, 2014They have lost limbs to landmines and been disabled by mortar shrapnel, but Afghanistan’s wheelchair women basketball players refuse to call themselves victims. Clashing wheelchairs, hooting supporters and balls swishing through hoops brought a drab grey court in downtown Kabul alive Wednesday, in the final of the country’s third annual competition organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). At the end of the forty minutes of play, the scoreline read Mazar-i-Sharif 26, Kabul 9 — but for many of the athletes who took part it was also a personal triumph over years of adversity. Mariam Samimi, a member of the winning side, was just six when she stepped on undetonated ordnance in her native northern province of Balkh, blowing off her toes.

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