Football in the Community work to empower one of the poorest Paralympic Committees to get them ready for Rio 2016.
During London 2012 articles in the British press released about a group of Paralympians from Burkina Faso who had been flown over to the UK to take part in the games. They didn’t have the right equipment, clothes or paperwork and had nowhere to stay. Luckily for them they were greeted by an ex International Citizens Service Volunteer who took them into his home and turned their dreams of competing into a reality.
International Service then struck up a partnership with the Burkina Faso Paralympic Committee, nationally known as Féderation Burkinabè des Sports pour Personnes Handicapées or FBSPH for short, to help them develop Inclusive Sport within Burkina Faso, raise funds and awareness for disabled sports as well its competitive athletes.
Together they have formed the Paralympic team and Paralympic Research team to help them develop Inclusive Sport.
The teams are made up of International Citizen Service Volunteers, National Volunteers, two International Service Team Leads and members of the FBSPH.
We went over to Burkina Faso recently, with the help of our partners International Service, to see how they were getting on and help develop their current plan of action.
There are some problems that are instantly noticeable and barriers that these teams have to face:
- Access to the internet in Burkina Faso is limited and extremely unreliable
- The FBSPH have limited financial resources and aren’t able to pay for the equipment need to train, compete, or register the athletes.
- There is no one in Africa who is actually qualified to classify athletes and therefore athletes are entered into competitions they do not qualify to take part in and consequently miss out on competing altogether.
- Disability in Burkina Faso is wildly misunderstood, with many locals believing it is contagious or a form of punishment. Meaning public support and resources for the disabled are extremely low and inconsistent.
- They have limited access to facilities and coaching staff.
- Each team of ICS Volunteers only have 3 months to achieve their goals before a whole new set of Volunteers come in and pick up from where the last team left off.
All of this means that the paths ahead for these teams are full of obstacles, political, cultural, financial, practical and international.
Our time spent with these teams allowed us to assist them in their goals to establish an online presence, develop session plans, increase national support from the local government and community, as well as trying to raise funds and donations of equipment for their athletes. Now we have returned we hope to carry on supporting them through giving them advice and spreading the word to the County fans and FITC followers about their work. We will keep you updated with their progress and inform you when their online presence is established so you can see for yourself what good work they are doing and how you might be able to help out.