In Summary

  • Following the serious injuries he suffered in the attack near the famous Kajaki hydroelectric power dam in Helmand Province, David’s left leg had to be amputated after several rounds of surgeries.
  • “It was a tough period for me because I was also battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), following my experience in the battlefield. I felt like my world had fallen apart. I was ailing, in pain and in stress.”
  • He said that after the experience, he became withdrawn and could not speak about it for several years. He lost hope in life.
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Football was always his passion and he played as a striker in the Kenya Premier League for Tusker Football Club and others, but he never imagined how it would really feel if he lost the most vital part of his body that enabled him to play.

David Opati Etale, 31, lost the ability to use his leg eight years ago, to a roadside bomb while in a combat vehicle in Afghanistan while he served in the British Army.

Yet, though the trauma in the transition period almost led him to suicide, he found a new passion in coaching young people who want to play the game.

PREMONITION OF DOOM

“On October 18th, 2009, I woke up in particularly low spirits. We went on patrol and we were attacked by Taliban militants in a fight that saw us engage them in a fire exchange for two hours.

“When everything went silent, we decided to drive back to our base but somewhere along the way, our vehicle hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED),” he says.

He became unconscious but when he woke up, he was in a hospital in the UK in pain. That was when it dawned on him that  he had several injuries.

David Opati Etale served in the British Army. PHOTO| COURTESY

MOST CHALLENGING PART OF HIS LIFE

All this happened only on his second deployment after joining the 3rd Battalion of the Rifles, an infantry regiment of the British Army in 2009. He had completed his six-month training that started on September 9, 2006 and ended on March 18, 2007.

He started as a rifleman soldier and was later promoted to the rank of a lance corporal.                       

“We were deployed to Afghanistan and this was the most challenging part of my life. One minute you are with your friends the next minute they are dead or have sustained life-changing injuries like losing limbs because of the IEDs planted by the Taliban,” he says of the war described as the bloodiest in the history of the British Army.

David Opati Etale is pictured here in the gym. PHOTO| COURTESY

The Taliban is one of the world’s most infamous extremist groups, describing itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and currently waging an insurgency war in the south-central Asian country.

WORLD FALLING APART

Following the serious injuries he suffered in the attack near the famous Kajaki hydroelectric power dam in Helmand Province, David’s left leg had to be amputated in 2016 after several rounds of surgeries.

“It was a tough period for me because I was also battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), following my experience in the battlefield. I felt like my world had fallen apart. I was ailing, in pain and in stress.”

Etale during one of the operations while he was still serving in the British Army. He was retired on medical grounds after he was hit by roadside bomb eight years ago. PHOTO| COURTESY

He said that after the experience, he became withdrawn and could not speak about it for several years. He lost hope in life.

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