ACCRA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The Ghana National Sports Authority has resolved to promote disable sports in the coming years, especially nucleus team (goalball) game for the blind, a senior official said here on Friday.
Kwame Amponfi Jnr., Greater Accra Regional Sports Director, told Xinhua in an interview that the initiative would encourage persons with various forms of disabilities, including the blind, to play effective roles in the development of sports in Ghana.
"Most often, we always see persons without disabilities being engaged in several sporting activities and it looks as if our brothers with visual impairment or persons with disabilities feel marginalized, and it is unfair," he told Xinhua during the first regional goalball competition at the Accra Sports Stadium on Friday.
"And so, therefore, the regional sports authority in Accra resolved that 2014 is going to be our focus year for sports for persons with disabilities and we zeroed in to sports for the blind and for that matter goalball," he said.
Goalball is a sport exclusively for athletes who have a visual impairment.
It was devised in 1946 in an effort to rehabilitate visually impaired veterans who returned from World War II.
In 1976, it was then introduced to the world at the Paralympic Games in Toronto, Canada.
The sport consists of two halves of 12 minutes each and athletes wear blackout masks on a playing court.
The object of the game is to roll the ball into the opposite goal while opposing players try to block the ball with their bodies.
Bells inside the balls help orient the players, indicating the direction of the on-coming ball.
Therefore, while play is in progress, complete silence is required in the venue to allow the players to instantly react to the ball.
The championship was sponsored by the Greater Accra Regional Sports Authority in collaboration with the sports wing of the Ghana Blind Union.
The maiden edition of the competition involved four goalball teams, comprising two male and two female teams from Accra Metro and the University of Ghana, Legon respectively.
A total of 24 visually impaired athletes and four officials participated in the event.
Amponfi Jnr. said the motivation for organizing such a championship was to raise formidable regional male and female sides to prepare towards effective participation in national and international competitions.
Also, the regional sports authority intended to use the competition to create awareness on goalball as an emerging sporting discipline for persons with disability in the area.
"It is to create awareness that there are sports for persons with disabilities and among these sports is goalball and goalball is a sport for the blind," he said.
"So, this is our regional nucleus team which is battle ready. However, we want to still subject them to internal vigorous self-censorship and, for that matter, any time we are given invitations, be it local or international championship, we will be battle ready to go with the right team," said Amponfi Jnr.
Alice Attipoe, the Chief Executive of the National Sports Authority, pledged to promote disabled sports throughout Ghana through the provision of funds and other logistical support to ensure that the blind are encouraged to also participate actively in sports.
"Mark my words that I am really going to promote goalball and ensure that it goes places," said Attipoe.
The Legon female team defeated Accra Metro 7-5 while the male team of the Accra Metro beat their Legon counterparts 7-4 to win the day. Cash prizes were awarded to the teams. (By Alex Osei-Boateng)