Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beginners Post

Beginners Post
After an intense week of In-country training and some re-adjusting to our new climate and home, we started our project training at our office. For the next few months we will be working for the Burkinabe Disability Sports Association (FBSPH) and the National Paralympic Committee.
The Federation

Our office is situated within a school for students who are visually impaired. We met the technical director of our organisation and two athletes, Florence and Lassané. Florence has visual impairment and Lassané has polio. Lassané was one of the two Paralympic athletes from Burkina Faso, who competed in the London Paralympics 2012.

Our project entitled Development of Inclusive Sports in Burkina Faso
focuses on raising awareness of disability issues and promoting adapted sports. for instance, the research we conducted explored the needs of Burkina disabled athletes with the hope of increasing accessibility, equipment, and sport facilities. Today we discussed how individuals with disabilities should be considered, and treated, as able bodied persons and equal to everyone else. The federation considers the inclusion of people with disabilities in sports as vital to social progress and development and much of their work involves encouraging people with disabilities to participate and professionally compete in sports. The federation believes that if Paralympic sport is developed and improved at a local level, this in turn increases the possibility of international competition and success.

Everyone in our organisation works as a volunteer and with no salaried workers, organisation can be challenging without permanent full time staff. Additionally, the federation faces a lack of finances and resources. Because of this, only a few of Burkina Faso athletes have had a chance at participating in the Paralympics - these are primarily financial issues, not because there are less athletes in Burkina Faso than other countries.

Some Athletes who came to training had difficulties maintaining a good diet, in turn affected their performance. It is clear that if athletes are to participate on a local and international level, more spending is needed to ensure health maintenance and effective training. This is a good example of the importance of adequate funding for the federation.
The Athletes

Lasané shared his experiences with us, describing how he started practising sport in 2002, after he had left school. His friends invited him to play basketball and cycling, and they trained him. In 2007 he started winning national competitions, which is how he was selected for the London Paralympics.

He qualified for the world competition in Canada; however he and other Burkinabe competitors were told that there was no money available for them to go. They participated in a competition in Ghana (which they paid for themselves) which was how he qualified to go to the London Paralympic games. But since he has been back there have been no competitions for him to compete in. He finishes by asking how will they qualify if there are no competitions in Burkina?

Florence started sport, such as volley ball and wrestling in primary school. It was later that she got involved in tandem bycles and as she got older started to participate in national competition. Florence talked about the gap bettween men and woman in sport saying that if you want to become an athlete, it is very difficult and very hard. That you have to push hard, and that the men here are more motivated than woman. Others added that there is an issue of cultural belief in Burkina Faso that sport is something more for men than woman. Ed added that this culture of gender inequality is the same globally - that these problems surrounding female professional sport are both national and international.


Disability Awareness
We had presentations on disability awareness and learning about disability issues in Burkina Faso. 75% of disabled people in Burkina Faso are unemployed and often face poverty, stigmitisation and discrimination. The federation aims to promote the rights of people with disabilities through sport because sport is not only a potent source of enjoyment for everyone involved but helps physical development, social inclusion and psychological health.

The type of adapted sport appropriate depends on what kind of disability an individual has. Equipment, environment, instrutural and 'rule of task' modification are all ways of modifying conventional (often physically specific) types of sport to adaptive all-inclusive sports. For example, equipment modification is where you manually modify game-specific equipment according to an individuals disability. Adaptions include using lighter equpment, brighter cones, lines or auditory signals. Enviroment modication could be taking into consideration things such as auditory distractions.

Then we had lectures on research and fundraising including keeping up to date with networks, contacts and advocacy. It is important to have political, and traditional, figureheads and local celebrities (such as footballers) supporting the federation in order to get funding and increase the level of public awareness on sports for people with disabilities. For research we may be conducting, we also covered types of data and sampling, data analysis, ethical consideration, and qualitative and quantitative research.

Our cohort needs to focus on fundraising, networking, communications and partnerships; we will also complete and finalise research the federation has conducted, increase our online presence and provide English and ICT lessons for federation members to improve their skill capacity. We brainstormed our ideas, which included acquiring help from disabled artists for fundraising events; collect fundraising at restaurants, hotel, markets, and hosting a sports event with influential people to attract public attendance and media attention. We allocated certain responsibilities to members of our group to disperse the work load and to enable better focus on our objectives over the next few weeks, and a time scale within which to do them in.


On Thursday (16/01/2014) we played Goalball in the morning. Everyone is blind folded, and there are three goalies on each side and a low net in the centre of the pitch where the ball must go under. Players rely on their hearing to play, and the ball has bells or some other adaptations inside it in order for it to be heard. The local students were experts, making it look easy - which it wasn't - and laughed at us International volunteers as we joined in the fun! I definitely was facing the wrong way towards my own goal at some points for example. It was an amazing experience and so interesting to watch. We are all really excited to progress with our work, help as much as we can and experience more fascinating things.

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