UNICEF, a global humanitarian relief organisation, has organised a football competition among schools of children with disability as part of the festivities marking World Children’s Day.
The competition was hosted at the Akropong School for the Blind in the Eastern Region, on the theme: “Unified Football for Inclusion Tournament, Celebrating World Children’s Day 2022.”
Participating students were from the Sekondi Takoradi School for the Deaf, Wa Methodist School for the Blind, Wa School for the Deaf, Koforidua School for the Deaf, Demonstration School for the Deaf, Mampong Akuapem and the Akropong School for the Deaf.
Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, the UNICEF Representative in Ghana, highlighted the importance of creating the opportunity and an inclusive, safe, and protected society for every child, irrespective of his or her ability to thrive.
She said society must have equitable access to learning and social services, with stigma and prejudice replaced with care, support, and encouragement, adding; “Then we will be closer to realising the aim of equity for every child.”
Ms Dufay said sports tournaments were fantastic opportunities to foster friendships while improving mental and physical health and well-being.
“At UNICEF, we believe all children and young people should have a fair and equitable chance… every girl and boy should be able to enjoy their rights, no matter their abilities.”
She said UNICEF and the United Nations Country Team in Ghana were committed to assisting the Government and stakeholders in rolling out programmes that promoted inclusion across many sectors.
She expressed gratitude to the Norwegian Government for its assistance to the football event.
Ms Francisca Atuluk, the Deputy Director at the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS), said children with physical impairments were the world’s most vulnerable, especially in terms of ensuring their holistic development through the provision of appropriate infrastructure, services, support, and care at home and in the community.
The Government was working hard to ensure inclusivity and non-discrimination in all its athletic events and other programmes.
Considering that, she said the Ministry had established 10 Youth Resource Centres, which were in various states of construction across the then 10 regions, meant to foster inclusion for all people; able or disabled.
“In addition, the Ministry is engaging with experts to identify how to make the existing sporting facilities disability-friendly,” she said.
This is in line with the International Olympic Committee declaration that everyone had the right to participate in sports without discrimination and in a manner that respected their safety, health, and dignity.
Mr Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku, the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), exhorted pupils to be visionary regardless of their circumstances since disability was all about capacity.
He asked everyone to work together to create an inclusive platform for each child to achieve his or her goals.
Mr Okraku gave 15 footballs to schools competing in the Unified Football for Inclusion event.