Sports Features of Thursday, 30 August 2012
Source: Rexford Alex
By Rexford Alex
Some latest developments at the amputee football front have compelled me to make these observations once again about government’s attitude towards Persons With Disability (PWDs).
There are reports and publications to the effect that government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, has reached an agreement with the leadership of the Ghana Amputee Football Federation over the Amputee National Team’s participation in the next world cup in Russia and the terms of the agreement leave much to be desired; much as the two parties deserve some commendation for agreeing to seek sponsorship elsewhere to fund the team’s world cup campaign, government or the Ministry had no business shirking its responsibility of catering for the team under the cloak of that agreement.
Supposing no sponsorship money was gotten from corporate institutions, would that mean the team would not participate in this crucial competition with some devastating consequences on the image of Ghana? This is where my anger and disappointment at the Ministry stems from in the so-called agreement reached. Before that agreement could even be brokered, government should have first of all indicated what it had to give the team, then what amount of sponsorship money would be needed to make the trip feasible, rather than the partnership to go look for sponsorship.
This brings into sharp memory what happened last year (about which I wrote a similar article) after the amputee team won silver at the last Cup of African Nations for Amputee Football (CANAF 2011) in Ghana where government failed to pay bonuses and allowances to the team for their feat. As usual, the Ministry played a smart one by claiming it had no contract with the Amputee Football Federation even though the Minister and his team of officers were deeply involved in the planning and execution of the event. All of these smack of discrimination against PWDs, a situation that is putting the government in a bad light across the globe. It took a last-minute intervention to save a similar situation in 2010 when the team was preparing for the world cup in Argentina where it became the first African Nation to reach the quarterfinals and the enviable position of 6th best in the world.
Government ought to know that such achievements do government a lot of good in international circles just as the nation is hopeful the disabled athletes at the Paralympic Games in London would be doing to the image of Ghana (I am very hopeful) after their able-bodied counterparts’ failure to win a medal at the Olympic Games.
The issue of bonuses for CANAF 2011 remains outstanding so it baffles observers like this writer that government would dare enter into such an agreement that has the tendency of making it appear irresponsible towards the disabled who are struggling for equal opportunities with able-bodied ones in a society hostile to them.
The world is watching Ghana and looks forward to a better treatment of the disabled so the earlier government changed its stance, as per the so-called agreement with the amputees, the better since Ghana’s image is at stake.
The CANAF affair remains outstanding, never to be shelved because it is their rights. Government ought to pay the players and managers and then ensure that the team is in Russia for the world cup to salvage our image.
The apparent disregard and discrimination against Persons With Disability (PWDs) ought to come to an end and government’s relationship with the amputees should mark a land mark in that regard.
That agreement ought to be abrogated now for a more responsible approach by government. We are watching.