The YHFG’s annual “I can do anything” – sporting tournament is aimed at providing opportunities for young people with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in community sports, recreation and educational activities.
Right now, more than ten teams and more than 350 athletes including deaf and physically challenged persons participate in this tournament officiated by professional referees from the Regional Referees Association of the Upper East Region. Prior to the tournament are radio announcements and radio discussions by disabled youth, including phone-in sessions. A TV station and several radio stations cover the event.
Initially the tournament was organised in 2011 to raise the plight of deaf children from the Gbeogo School for the deaf. Because of how the deaf children enjoyed the tournament and the positive feedback received from the general public, the YHFG instituted it as an annual event. The event became more and more successfull and drew more interest from other disabled youth. Consequently, the objectives of the tournament were revised in early 2014 to include all other disable youth and not only the deaf children. The theme was also changed from “the deaf can do anything except hear” to “I can do anything” tournament.
Impact of the tournament: The impact of the tournament was assessed through qualitative discussions with the participating youth, the various coaches and the general public using radio discussion: From the participating youth, the feedback is highly positive. Many of the physically challenged disabled youth were participating in such a tournament for the first time in their life and the medals they received were also their first time experience.
A member of the GSPD Bolgatanga branch stated: “our counterparts in the south of Ghana do frequently have the opportunity to participate in sporting activities and get recognition as well. For those of us here in the Upper East region, this is the first time we have the opportunity like this and the feeling within us is great”. Such comments are a measure of the internal changes in terms of self-esteem and self-worth that the tournament is contributing to their lives.
Also the discussions with the abled youth participants were equally motivating. The majority of them were surprise to see how the disabled youth could excel in various sporting activities and made comments such as “from now onwards, I will treat all my disabled friends with respect because I can see that even with their disability, they are better in some aspects of sporting activities than I do”. It is hope that such comments will translate to real actions where disabled youth will be less stigmatized in the Ghanaian society.
The tournament was co-sponsored by Kuntinkantan Foundation (http://www.kuntinkantan.com/)