The YHFG’s annual 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. The tournament initiated by two Dutch young men in 2011, was initially organised 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 feedback received from the general public, the YHFG instituted it as an annual event. The 2012 and 2013 events were equally successfully organised and it drew more interest from other disable 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.
I Can Do Anything 2014
This year’s tournament took place on the 22nd and 23rd October, 2014 at the Bolgatanga Sports stadium. Prior to the tournament, there were radio announcements and radio discussions by disabled youth, including phone-in sessions where the public phone-in and applauded the idea behind the tournament. In all, eleven teams participated in this year’s tournament which were officiated by professional referees from the Regional Referees Association of the Upper East Region. There was one TV station and five radio stations covering this year’s event.
In all, 360 youth participated in the tournament. These include 50 deaf youth and 27 physically challenge youth.
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 was highly positive. The physically challenged disabled youth was participating in such a tournament for the first time in their life and the medals they received was also their first time experience. As stated by Atanga, a member of the GSPD Bolgatanga branch, “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/)