Joseph Allen: A True Inspiration

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Liberia's amputee football team goalkeeper Joseph Allen pre and post status after losing his right arm in 2003.

Joseph Allen may not be a popular athlete as compared to other Liberian athletes, but his story is just as inspirational as any other athlete. It is a story that never gets old hearing it.

Allen’s sad story began when he lost his right arm in 2003 when fighting intensified between Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and forces loyal to then-president Charles Taylor.

The indiscriminate firing by the two forces forced thousands of Liberians to seek refuge in the Greystone Compound located near the US Embassy in Monrovia, where Allen sadly met his misfortune.

But fortunately, Allen survived and in his subsequent struggle found a new life in football. “I love the sport because I can experience friendship again,” he said.

The National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, and Rehabilitation (NCDDRR) initiated amputee football and recruited Allen through one of its counseling coordinators, Paul Tolbert. Allen eventually became part of the Lone Star national amputee team as a goalkeeper.

The team became a formidable force and amputee football came to the national spotlight. In 2008, Liberia hosted the Amputee African Cup of Nations and won the tournament.

Later in 2013, Allen rose to become the star goalkeeper for the National Amputee Football team. The 29-year-old goalkeeper stood between the goalposts for the team in their triple triumph of the African Amputee Football Championship. He later traveled with the team to Russia where he was named the “Best Goalkeeper” in the tournament.

Recently, one of Allen’s photos in which he dove to save a ball from entering his net has gone viral on social media. It has received several commendations for being an inspiration to many in similar and more difficult physical conditions around the world.

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