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SIERRA LEONE HOSTS THE WEST AFRICAN DEAF SPORTS UNION TOURNAMENT 9TH EDITION IN FREETOWN

Sports for the deaf has gone a long way in attracting the attention of the United Nations who has made football and other sporting activities mandatory for the deaf all over the world. This has dictated the formation of Deaf Sports Federations all over the world. The Sierra Leone Deaf Sports Federation came into being in 1998 and it is affiliated with the International Confederation of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) that is based in Switzerland and the Confederation of African Deaf Sports (CADS). CADS is responsible for the coordination of all African Deaf Sports including the Federations in each African state.

The West Africa Deaf Sport Union (WADSU) Tournament 9th Edition was hosted by the Sierra Leone Deaf Sports Federation between 24th September to 5th October 2019. The tournament under the tootle of the WADSU President started on the 28th September. There were six(6) countries, i.e. Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal and Mali. The fixture of the tournament started with Sierra Leone and Senegal on the 28th September. However, Sierra Leone lost the match with a lone goal in favor of Senegal on that day.

Tomorrow will be the semi final stage of the tournament. Four countries have been able to reach the semi final stage. These are Nigeria vs Gambia and Mali vs Senegal. Tomorrow’s matches are expected to be a do or die contest as players flexed their muscles to gain supremacy to attain the final stage.

But what is pathetic about our tournament is that despite wide publicity made in both the print and electronic Media, spectators were not attracted at all as is evident from the empty stadium during all the matches so far played. This is a clear manifestation of the still apathetic and stereotypical attitudes that prevails in Sierra Leone for people with Disabilities.

On the whole, I can’t blame people over this attitude in Sierra Leone. What we lack here is the appropriate education on Disability rights and empowerment. Even though there are certain sections of the society that are aware of the existence of these rights, but those centuries old negative perceptions about people with disabilities is still entrenched in the hearts and minds of the populace. Even highly educated people whom we expected much from in understanding Disability rights and empowerment have so far proved to be a disappointment to us.

The difficulties the Sierra Leone Deaf Sports Federation encountered to source financial support from the government and other agencies was too much. It was only through perseverance that the WADSU 9th Edition Tournament was hosted by us in Sierra Leone. However, we give thanks to Ministry of Sports and some sections of the society for their supports, though.

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