This year we were fortunate to participate in the 3rd Edition of Hon. Ochei International Wheelchair Basketball Association. The tournament took place in Lagos Nigeria from the 16th to the 23rd of February.
Our team comprised of nine (9) male players and three (3) female players who were accompanied by two officials. In the tournament, the female took part in a 3X3 half court tournament.
The male team out of three games, won one and lost two, including a lost to the eventual champions of the tournament.
Although we were able to make the trip but not without difficulties. Firstly, no one or corporate body was able to sponsor the team transportation. Each players had to solicit funding on their own behalves and most of them end up borrowing in order to complete their transportation to Lagos, Nigeria.
There was even complications when they got to the Nigerian border since non had International passport they had to return to the Ghana/Togo border to process some form of permit which they then used to reenter Nigeria.
In all we are very thankful for making our first International splash despite all odds.
The Oluyole Warriors of Oyo State on Saturday emerged champions in the third Victor Ochei International Wheelchair Basketball Championship in Lagos.
Oluyole defeated Edo team 51-12 in the final decided at the National Stadium, Lagos.
The championship which had teams from five other West African countries, including Ghana and the Republic of Benin
Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, who the competition named after, said that his compassion for the physically challenged in the society inspired his involvement in wheelchair basketball.
'I've compassion for the less privileged in our society. Beyond seeing them from the ambit of pity, they have hidden talents that people need to see and appreciate. I admire strength in their character. Like they say, there is ability in disability. These are special people who by no reason of theirs are physically challenged. We need to lend a helping hand and bring out the best in them"
We want to say a big thank you to him and the Nigerian Wheelchair Basketball Federation for their warm hospitality during the competition.
We urge more support from well wishers to continue to support us at Hoops Care International as we strive to empower of brothers and sisters who are physically challenged.
The last quarter of the year was very successful. In October, the second Disability Empowerment Conference took place at the Alberta's Palace Beach Resort. In attendance were over 70 persons with disability including the physically challenged, hearing impairs, visually impairs and those with special needs. The theme of the conference was TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT. The conference took two days and the participants were educated on the current Ghana Disability Act, CPR, Healthy eating etc. The second day was reserve for fun games and it was exciting to see persons of various different disabilities compete in checkers, table tennis and other games, including a dance off. At the close of the conference a committee was set up which is to act as an advocacy group. The theme for next year was also chosen which is PWD- Our Rights Our Voice! The conference is jointly organized by Hoops Care International and Janaston Management of the USA.
In November, the MP of Cape Coast North, Hon. Barton Oduro, donated 15 wheelchairs to PWD in Cape Coast. Eight of the chairs were reserve for the wheelchair basketball program run by Hoops Care International. The event which took place at the Roman Park in Abura, Cape Coast, saw in attendance over 200 PWD. At the occasion, the MP who is also Deputy Speaker of Parliament stated that he would personally champion the fight for the enactment of the Ghana Disability Act which is to take full effect in 2016. He took the occasion to advice all building contractors to include disability friendly access in their building designs and call on the building inspectors to reject any public building that is not disability friendly.
The wheels4hope team, champion by Hoops Care International, played a friendly with their counterpart from the Western Region. In attendance were the MP of Cape Coast North and the Metropolis Chief Executive. The match was the climax of the wheelchair donation by the MP earlier in the day. The game was played at the Hoops Care basketball court at the Victoria Park in Cape Coast. The game was a huge one sided affair as our team showed great improvement as they easily handle their opponent winning 33-2 to the excitement of the crowd in attendance.
In December, members of the wheelchair basketball were taken on a trip to Accra to watch the local Black Stars take on the Mali National team. This is in regards to the opportunity which has come their way, which is, some members will have an all expense paid trip to watch the Black Stars in this year world cup in Brazil. How excited we are of another opportunity. 2014 is going to be a great year for our program. We ask that you continue to support us in prayers as well as financial means.
On April 23rd HCI made a working visit to Shama District in the Western Region to observe the distribution of wheelchairs, walking cane and crutches to persons of physical disabilities in the district. The program was well planned with beneficiaries going through registration and then meeting with the physio therapists who will then advice what will be needed in order for them to have proper mobility. A temporary workshop was also setup to remodel the donated items to the specification of each user. Once that process is completed, a group of Pastors where available to carry on a counseling section for the PWD's and their relations who accompanied them.The following day, 16 members traveled to the distribution venue to meet with "Joni and Friends: wheelsfor the world." We were fortunate to get six brand new wheelchairs for those who depended fully on it. We were also able to have them repair four of our wheelchairs which were not in use because of spar parts. The workshop team did an excellent job adding few more years back to them!We would like to take this opportunity to thank Wheels for the World | Joni and Friends and especially Peace Corps Volunteer, David for linking us up with such a wonderful organization.
The Wheels4Hope Program by Hoops Care International was established to help physically challenged individuals in the community to participate in sporting opportunities. Most of the participants are low income generators and the program also seeks to tackle the inequality between those who have and those who in the program do not.
It has been a serious challenge in getting funds to motivate these athletes as well as have them train and compete. Over the past six months a lot has been achieved with little or no funding.
Currently, the program has had a German volunteer coach who has been working with the athletes in improving their skills. The coach who at the beginning was little knowledgeable about wheelchair basketball, had to do some intensive research online and through youtube to make her better prepare to handle the challenge we place on her. It has been a success since then as she has been able to not only train them but has also been able to raise some funds through her friends and family at home to buy two wheelchairs and spare parts for the current ones.
In November, Hoops Care arranged a friendly match with the tem from Brong Ahfo region here in Ghana. The Seven hours trip saw us taking 22 athletes from Cape Coast to Sunyani. It was most of the athletes first time going far away from home. We spent three days in Sunyani where there were two games played between our male and female teams and theirs. Although we lost both matches, with the male came close, it was evident that the superior wheelchair of the BA team did much in helping them to achieve such a fete. In the end it was a good eye opener to our athletes who has wish since then to be able to also have sports wheelchairs in order to balance the odd in competitions.
The School of Education, Winneba , also invited the Wheels4Hope Athletes to take part in a program which was organize by the final year student with the motive of informing their peers that inability was not disability. A special exhibition match between able students and the W4H athletes was held. All in attendance admire the skill and competitive spirit of our athletes. It was not easy for the students as they got blown away. At the end, those who took part acknowledge the determination of the athletes with disability as they have personally experienced it was not n easy task playing basketball in wheelchairs.
In December the team got an invite to take part in a wheelchair tournament which was held in Nigeria. Unfortunately, we were unable to make the trip as there was no funding to take the 14 athletes and official to Nigeria. We needed to raise about Two Thousand Dollars but came far short of the amount. Nonetheless we are hoping that next year we might be able to make the trip once we start to plan us ahead of time. The athletes also took the time to visit radio stations and talk to the public on their challenges as athletes. They also use the time to call on others like them no to sit at home but also come out for the weekly sports clinic which is held t the Victoria Park on the weekends.
Finally, we were able to get the attention of a journalist who wrote a newspaper article on the program with the caption, Cape Coast athletes using clinical wheelchairs to play sport.
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