An Empowering Sports Day in Sandema

The players are warming up

After an intense 4 weeks of planning the Sandema Sports Day finally arrived. Everyone woke up that morning with high hopes for how the day would turn out.

By 11am the event was in full swing. The stadium was packed full of locals from Sandema, as well as invited guests including the chief and his entourage, the District Assembly, and the regional bank. Close to 30 people from the Sandema DPO, 40 Guests from Wiaga and 54 people from Chuchuliga DPO were also in attendance. Both the Chuchuliga and Sandema DPO’s made remarkable entrances, performing traditional African singing, dancing, and drumming. When the chief arrived the crowd fell silent, and everyone all stood as a sign of respect to welcome him. Having the chief attend our event was a real honour and we were further overwhelmed when he spoke in English as a sign of respect to ourselves; as it is very rare that he speaks anything but Buli. He spoke about how proud he was to have the first disability sports event held not just in the Builsa District, but Sandema itself.

The sports day opened with a speech from Maxwell Akandem (Project coordinator of CBR) about the importance of the event,  followed by a speech from Gilbert (President of the Sandema DPO) who emphasized the importance of sports for people with disabilities and the potential they have for improving self worth and social inclusion. Patience then gave a few words on International Service’s behalf. After the speeches were finished the sports began!

Jenny, Phil and the coaches set up football and rounder’s tournaments while Rachel set up sports day activities such as egg and spoon races, tug of war, and running races. While the rounder’s and sports day activities were for both abled and disabled children to play, the football was specifically tailored for disabled. Around 26 people joined in the football match, with a range of people with disabilities taking part. The day turned out to be a success and everyone seemed to have a blast.

When the day started to wind down, to keep all the children entertained while we packed everything away the coaches set up a dancing competition. With a crowd 5 people deep everyone was getting involved and thoroughly enjoying the dancing. After an exhausting 12 hour day we finally made it home, everyone suffering from tiredness and everyone had caught a tan (or sunburn)! After all the planning, effort and time we put into making this day a success, it couldn’t have turned out any better.