Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The British Are Coming!

Friday afternoon saw a welcome break from our usual routine of office work as we welcomed a party of students and teachers from the Frederick Gough School to our offices in ABPAM.

Central Ouagadougou is a far cry from North Lincolnshire, particularly in the month of February, but our guests from Frederick Gough School settled in quickly, water sachets in hand.

The purpose of the visit was for a select number of students from the UK to come and visit IS projects here in Burkina, to which they have very kindly donated money. As the final stop on their tour of IS Burkina projects in Ouagadougou, a Torball event was organised courtesy of the staff and students of ABPAM in conjunction with the team for Development of Inclusive Sport in Burkina Faso, in order to give them a first-hand experience of disability sport in Burkina Faso.

Following warm welcomes from the Headmistress of ABPAM and the Vice-President of the Federation, it was merely a case of waiting for excitement surrounding the circulation of cans of fizzy drink to die down and quiet to fall before four separate teams of ABPAM students donned their blind folds and gave an expert demonstration in how Torball should be played.

Four teams of students from ABPAM competed in a mini-tournament, the winning team from each match going on to compete in a grand finale. Within minutes of watching play between the ABPAM teams, the skill of the players was clearly evident; the match being a perfect advert for the fast-paced nature and competitiveness of disability sport. The quiet amongst the spectators was frequently interrupted by enthusiastic cheers following the double sounding of the whistle which indicated yet another goal.

On conclusion of the hard-fought final, introductions were made between the UK and Burkinabè students, many of whom were of a similar age. Amidst congratulations and well-wishing, an exchange of blind folds took place, thus inducting the students of Frederick Gough School into the world of Torball. Blind folds in place, the UK students were ushered into place in front of the goals whilst volunteers from the Inclusive Sport Education team gave an abridged version of the rules of Torball.

Whilst video evidence is in existence documenting the explorations into the world of Torball by the team for Development of Inclusive Sport in Burkina Faso, it would be unfair to comment on anyone’s ability to play the sport; however it is safe to say there was a marked difference in the pace and accuracy of the games involving ABPAM and Frederick Gough School students. Indeed, it would certainly be a surprise if the word ‘Out’ had ever been so frequently used in any sporting competition to date. Despite the difficulties they faced in acclimatising to the world of Torball, the students of Frederick Gough School seemed to thoroughly enjoy their experience, and when the double-whistle eventually sounded to indicate a goal being scored, it was with genuine delight that they celebrated.

Whilst the matches were in progress, the research team were lucky enough to complete a series of interviews concerning the impact of the afternoon’s events with students and teachers from both ABPAM and the Frederick Gough School, as well as with a Federation representative. The responses were extremely encouraging, indicating that for the Frederick Gough School contingent in particular, the afternoon had been a truly positive event.

Amidst post-match festivities, the minibus arrived to collect the party from Frederick Gough School, and it was with some difficulty that the last few students were prised away from the dancing.  This was surely an indication of an afternoon well spent. Particularly from our perspective as volunteers working for the Development of Inclusive Sport in Burkina Faso, the visit from Frederick Gough School was a bench mark of success against which future events will be compared; not only was it a positive advert for disability sport in Burkina and an excellent awareness-raising tool, but it was also an extremely enjoyable afternoon. 

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