Sport is a universal language that can break down barriers and build respect. Participation does not have to be limited by ability, or how rich or poor you might be, or by where you live.

So it makes sense to use sport in places like Ghana as a tool to bring about positive change in the lives of people and communities. It doesn’t have to cost much. You can do it pretty much anywhere. And almost anyone can take part.

But what about if you have a disability? Today, the idea of people with a disability being able to participate in sport and physical activity is not so uncommon. In many countries, opportunities exist from the grassroots to elite levels for people with disability to showcase their abilities in sport and physical activity. But this is not the case in all parts of the world. 

Our inclusive sports programme Fair Play engages people with and without disabilities. It builds community cohesion and has a positive impact on health and well-being. Through sport, participants learn to act in a fair and tolerant manner, grow in self-esteem and develop a willingness to take on responsibility. And apart from all this – it’s fun!

At International Service Ghana, our Fair Play inclusive sport programme gives people with and without disabilities an opportunity to take part in a programme that combines inclusive sports, advocacy and community education. Working alongside local disabled peoples’ organisations and sports clubs, we tackle deep-rooted social stigma and discrimination, breaking down the barriers that prevent disabled young people and adults from fully engaging in education, work and society. 

Last week we were excited to welcome the High Commissioner for Ghana, Iain Walker, to one of our Fair Play inclusive sport events in Tamale. The High Commissioner joined International Service and the Ghana Blind Association for a Goalball tournament to promote inclusive sports and mark the start of his Ghana Grand, a 1000 km cycle ride across the country, to raise funds for burns victims in Ghana. 

“The High Commissioner and his team not only marked their presence at the tournament but also participated in the game, with the High Commissioner playing alongside the Sagnarigu Goalball team and the Deputy High Commissioner playing with the Tamale Metro Goalball team. We hope the tournament inspired more people to become ambassadors for the promotion of Goallball in Ghana and beyond”.

Ian Walker said he is undertaking the 1000 km cycle to support burn victims in Ghana and raise funds for those in need of plastic surgery. Because of a serious shortage of plastic surgeons in Ghana, many burn victims are not receiving the help they need to lead a better life.

At International Service, we want a future where people with disabilities are just as likely to be active and engaged in sports as people without disabilities. It is projects like Fair Play that will help us achieve this around the world.

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