Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Project Fun and Sports Galore With a Twist

First and foremost I would like to apologise on behalf of the team for the late blog entry. We OBVIOUSLY got carried away working on our project (true dedication).

Following on from the previous teams report we have identified several important areas for development. We have divided into teams covering Health, Education and Sport and Recreation. (We also have one team working on developing a marketing strategy for the Resource Centre).

Myself and Til have taken up the responsibility of the Sports and Recreation project, beginning with our first interview with the sporting clubs representatives. We were very impressed to hear about the progress they were making independently. As well as discussing their achievements, we listened to their explanations about the troubles they are currently facing with such issues as equipment, coaches, facilities etc. After a long meeting with all the representatives we have been able to get a clearer view of what supporting funds are needed and where money could be spent most efficiently. We are hoping not only to help the current teams but also that soon we will be able to help support the expansion of the teams to include more people from the disabled community in the Northern Region. As we continue to compile information, we will be able to move forward to produce effective fund raising proposals.

We were also given the opportunity to visit Tamale New Sports Stadium to speak to two track racers, Ayishatu and Abukari. They have qualified to take part in the Glasgow Common Wealth Games, 2014 (an amazing achievement). The two professionals voiced some areas they feel support in might allow them to reach their maximum potential in the up and coming games. One example involved VISA applications and funds- the two are required to manage their VISA applications independently. Abukari explained to us that not only are the applications costly, but also that if any problems with their application were to cause delays they would be in danger of missing the Common Wealth Games completely.

Ayishatu and Abukari’s great motivation, dedication and achievement have left them itching to reach beyond the Common Wealth. A way in which they feel they could improve in both performance and in condifence in future competitions is by having specialised bikes. They currently train and compete on old, inadequate track bikes. The tread on the wheels of each bike is worn down and there are no covers on the spokes of the wheels meaning that when competing their fingers and hands are at risk of injury. Also, both of the athletes have had to adjust their seating position with pieces of foam placed on the bike seats. It certainly made us think that as the two athletes have achieved so much without specialised bikes, who knows what they could achieve in the future?

On another day we were  invited to watch some of the sports teams train at the Tamale Old Stadium. By going along we were able to gain a better understanding of the teams and the way training operates in order to be able to engage in our work with a thorough understanding of the current structures. We were very impressed with how organised the deaf football team were. They have no coach so the young men have to organise and plan training themselves. The team had been training for a good two hours before we arrived, and carried on training for another two hours afterwards. When we visited, some of the footballers were playing bare- foot, and there was no real pitch or adequate spacing for practise. This lack of kit and the need of a signing coach or trainer seemed to be the drawbacks for the talented young men. With their brilliant attitude and their skill, the correct resources would enable the sports club to have a fair chance to develop and hopefully compete and expand to include others in the deaf community of the Northern Region.

The second team we visited that day was the wheelchair basket ballers. After trying out the sport in a short game ourselves (I think I got hold of the ball a grand total of once…), we could see just how good the players are at what they do. The atmosphere seemed very professional, with a warm up at the beginning followed by a number of organised friendly matches. Although these were just practice games they were fast and furious and the players really showed off their skill. However, the basketball court was faded and unkempt and the team showed us where they had tried to fill in some of the worst holes themselves. What seemed most frustrating however was that they did not have enough specialised chairs to play with and we saw many fall without the necessary stabilising adjustments on the sports chairs. Despite the challenges they face, the team were clearly motivated, with a few who have already qualified to play at a national level.

After meeting with the sports teams and seeing the high levels of capability and dedication they reflect as individuals and as teams we are thrilled to be working with them to support their sustainability and hopefully their expansion. We would really like to especially see the teams expand to include more children with disabilities and we have already begun investigating such possibilities. We can see how much being a part of these teams means to the members. Sport can help reduce social isolation, develop social skills, increase confidence and it provides a platform for the players to demonstrate a positive display of ability to the wider community. So for now it’s back to the office for us, we’ll be knocking out the proposals, searching for sponsors and supporters who might want to help these teams and individuals represent the Northern Region or maybe even represent Ghana itself as the sports stars of the future!


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