After a three-day sports fiesta at the El Wak Sports Stadium in Accra to battle for selection to represent Ghana in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer games, a total of 16 intellectually disabled athletes have got the nod to undertake intensive training in preparation for the games.
While 10 of the intellectually disabled athletes were selected from the Western Region to represent Ghana to compete in seven a side football in the 2019 Abu Dhabi games, the others will feature prominently in athletics, hoping to win medals for the country during the games.
In all, a total of 160 intellectually disabled athletes from various parts of the country converged at the stadium to compete in various sports disciplines , hoping to get the nod to represent Ghana in the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Prior to the games, about 80 coaches from the various special schools in Ghana were offered special coaching course in Kumasi for them to take their teams through selected sports disciplines in preparations for the games in Accra.
According to the National Director of Special Olympics Ghana, Ms Phyllis Binky, while athletes selected to represent Ghana in football were selected from the Western region due to their brilliant performance during the games, the others were selected from the Northern region.
Speaking in an interview she noted “ athletes who were selected would be camped to fine tune their preparations for Ghana to excel as it happened in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer games held in Los Angeles in the United States of America”.
Special Olympics is a renowned international organisation that offers worldwide all year training and competition opportunities for more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries, including Ghana. Their goal is to bring understanding and acceptance to intellectually disabled athletes with the view of integrating them into society in a more effective way.About 7,000 athletes from 170 countries are likely to converge in Abu Dhabi to participate in the Abu Dhabi games.
Prior to the games, the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Osei Yaw Adutwum, assured of the ministry’s preparedness to support the intellectually disabled athletes for them to excel in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games scheduled for Abu Dhabi.
Describing the tournament as exciting and thrilling, he said all Ghanaians have various roles to play to ensure that the vulnerable in society were not only protected, but also supported in various ways for them to realise their potentials.
“We must challenge ourselves and each other to put in pragmatic measures that truely address this issue of supporting and protecting the disadvantaged in society. With love, commitment and guidance, children with special needs can excel and give back to society”, Dr Adutwum noted during the opening ceremony of the National Special Olympics Games held at the El-Wak Stadium on June 6 2018.
A member of the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Ghana, Nana Wereko-Ampim Opoku said Special Olympics worldwide offers all year training and competition opportunities for more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries, including Ghana.
“As Special Olympics, our goal is to bring understanding and acceptance of our athletes to every part of the world”, Nana Wereko-Ampim noted .
He commended Max International, Coca-Cola Ghana, Herbalife and National Lotteries for their tremendous support to intellectually disabled athletes in Ghana .
Nana Wereko-Ampim made a passionate appeal to other organisations, institutions and individuals to support Special Olympics Ghana as they unearth the potentials of the intellectually disabled , nurture and develop such potentials for them to be properly integrated into society.
This, he said, would enable them contribute meaningfully to sustainable development of Ghana.