Special Olympics World Summer games in Abu Dhabi: 16 to represent Ghana

Author: George Ernest Asare
A section of the team selected to represent Ghana in the 2019 Abu Dhabi games

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.