Dakar, Senegal (2008) - Ibrahima Faye is captain of the Talibou Dabo handicap basketball team in Dakar, Senegal. Faye and the Talibou Dabo team have won seven of the last eight national championships for handicapped basketball in Senegal. In April 2008, they prepared for the beginning of their ninth tournament, with hopes of an eighth championship. Here, during the nearly-two hour ride home from their first game, Ibrahima Faye entertains his team with a black flip from the rafters of the bus. Twenty-seven year old Faye is the team captain. Behind him, his daughter Bintu laughs. Faye says usually children don’t come along to out-of-town games, but Bintu (who is a daddy’s girl says her father), cried until he brought her with him for the Saturday game.
Dakar, Senegal (2008) - Ibrahima Faye practices at the Talibou Dabo Center courts in Dakar, Senegal. Faye and the Talibou Dabo team have won seven of the last eight national championships for handicapped basketball in Senegal. In April 2008, they prepared for the beginning of their ninth tournament, with hopes of an eighth championship.
Faye says the team plays with equipment donated from European organizations for the handicapped. He does not own a wheelchair, but he says that would be hard if he did, because there are very few places in Dakar with ramps.
To get to practice every afternoon, Faye walks from work to catch a bus. He says the streets of Dakar are not handicapped friendly, and he has to jump over barriers such as the one on this busy highway in the country’s capital.
Faye uses his briquee—metal crutches—to trudge through the sandy Dakar walkways.
Because their chairs are old and used, the players often cut their hands while playing.
The Talibou Dabo team practices five days a week. Last year was the first time since the club was founded in 2000 that they did not win the national championships, and they are determined to regain the title.
The teammates chase after a loose ball during the last practice before their first game of the tournament. The Talibou Dabo Center where they play is a meeting place for handicapped residents of Dakar.
Each day, Faye leaves his home early in the morning to go to work at a store that sells beauty products. Faye went to school for three years, before he had to drop out, because he did not have enough money to finish.
In between work and practice every day, Faye visits his mother. He is the oldest of his family. Although he moved out a few years ago after he was married, he says he still feels the need to take care of his siblings and mother.
After practice, Faye makes it home as the sun sets. He says the handicapped community in Dakar is tight knit, and on the walk to his house he runs into another member of the Talibou Dabo Center and stops to chat.
Every night Faye comes home to eat dinner with his wife, who is also handicapped, and their four-year-old daughter Bintu. He often watches old video of his team’s games. He, along with some of the younger players, dream of playing handicapped basketball in Europe, where he says some people get paid to play.
The day of the first game, the players adjust their chairs and goof around hours before the game.
While they wait for the bus to pick them up and take them to their first game, the coach lays out the team’s strategy.
On game days, the Talibou Dabo team spends the entire day together. They meet up at 10 AM for a 4 pm game.
During their wait time, the team eats a traditional Senegalese lunch of rice, fish and vegetables before the game.
In a country where 94% of the population is Muslim, the team also prays together after the meal.
Faye lost the use of his legs when he was six-years old. He contracted polios, and he says his mother took him to the hospital where they gave him shots. After the shots. The shots made the polio better, but afterward he lost the use of his legs.
The bus hasn’t arrived to pick up the players yet, so the team captains take a minute to go to the hallway and discuss the day’s game.
After the bus finally arrives, the players are running late for the game. A team manager yells out instructions to the driver as he calls the other team to tell them they will be late to the game. But the bus was too late, and the Talibou Dabo team was forced to forfeit their first game of the tournament.
The next Saturday, the team made it with an hour to spare to their second game—just outside of Dakar.
In their second game of the tournament, Talibou Dabo took the lead early Faye shoots over the opponents.
The Talibou Dabo defense converges on the other team during their first game of the Senegal National Championships. The team easily won the afternoon match.
After their first win, Talibou Dabo teammates raise their hands in victory. Team Captain Ibrahima Faye says that in Senegal, people don’t think the handicapped can do much. But by playing basketball, they prove them wrong, he adds.
A player on the handicapped basketball team from Dakar yells out the score to passerby after their first win.