Sunday, August 31, 2008

Team Ghana upset no sponsorship for Paralympics available

From Ghana News August 30:

The Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled (sports wing) has expressed surprise about the refusal of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports to sponsor the Ghana Paralympics Team to compete in the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.

It said it came to its notice per a publication in a national daily that it was impossible for the ministry to provide 90,000 dollars that it requires for the travel arrangements of a team of four athletes whom it claimed were not qualified for the Games.

Mr Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, Chairman of the GDSP Sports in a press briefing to react to the stand of the Ministry in Accra on Friday noted that it was wrong for the Ministry to have based its decision on the advice offered by its Director of Sports, Dr. Emmanuel Owusu Ansah.

The Beijing Paralympics Games would be held from 6th to 17th September.

He said that the two athletes, Botsyo Nkegbe and Ajara Mohammed are not only participating for its sake but have a great chance of winning medals.

The Chairman said Nkegbe presently holds the best time in Africa in the 100 and 200 metres races and is among the ten best disabled athletes in the world after a three months training in the US while Ajara is a 1500m African champion and a gold medal winner in the last All Africa Games in Algeria and has improved on her time.

Mr Mohammed urged the Ministry to rescind its decision of refusing to sponsor the Paralympics Team to compete in the Beijing games and made a passionate appeal to all Ghanaians and corporate bodies to donate generously to enable the team purchase their tickets and for their allowances for two of the athletes, a coach, a medical officer and an official to make the trip.

He said if the ministry thinks it is expensive to fund the trip of the team, it should
either cut down on the number of officials or seek further financial support to enable Team Ghana make its appearance at the Games.

Mr Mohammed said it is not true that competing on a wild card does not qualify an athlete for a medal as said by the ministry and that taking part on a wild card would be a non-scoring event at the Games.

“Wild card is given to, especially, countries that have difficulty taking part in at least two world championships sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee, (IPC) but meet the minimum requirements and have a potential to make a difference in the Games”.

“It is a special intervention by the IPC to help developing countries and it does not indicate that one is participating on a non-scoring basis. Every athlete competing in the Games has an equal chance of winning medals like others, except that wild card holders are offered limited events”.

Mr Mohammed explained that Ghana was offered the wild card because its leaders failed to put in place the necessary measures that would enable her qualify and also failed to pay Ghana’s membership dues of the IPC on time and to present any athlete at any of the IPC sanctioned world championships.

“The fact that Ghana is a wild card country has no bearing on their inability to win a medal contrary to what is being portrayed to the Ghanaian public but it is because the IPC recognizes the importance of Ghana’s presence in the Beijing Games”.

The Chairman explained that the Society started organized disablity sports with the help of other partners, Johny and Friends Organisation, Jean Driscoll’s ‘Determined to Win Inc.’ from the United States of America, Danish Sports Organisation for the Disabled and USAID-Ghana who have continued to support the athletes with training and equipment including the current Ghana Paralympics Team.

Mr Mohammed said since the formation of the Association of Sports for the Disabled and the National Paralympics Committee, the Society decided to concentrate on grassroots sports development for the physically disabled with coordination from the National Sports Council.

Nkegbe explained that they are capable of winning medals for the country even with their wild card status since they have adequately prepared for their events.