The Ghana Federation of the Disabled has expressed concern about the deliberate neglect and systematic exclusion of persons with disability from participating in national and international sporting events.

The members, comprising the blind, the death and dumb and physical disabled persons said over the years they have been neglected by the sports authorities and are always the first to be dropped in favour of even non-performing able-bodied athletes.

Mr Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, a spokesman of the Federation, at a press conference at the Accra Rehabilitation Centre, alleged that Ghana’s Paralympics team has been dropped by the National Sports Council from participating in the Commonwealth Games scheduled for India this August.

He said “such an arbitrary action is not only discriminatory and violates national and international laws but totally undermines our national efforts to build an all inclusive society where the contribution of every citizen to the national development is valued”.

Mr Abdul-Aziz said frantic efforts to ensure that persons with disability are among the proposed 2,500 supporters to the South Africa World Cup has yielded no results.

He said even though they had confirmation from the Ministry of Youth and Sports that some slots have been given to the National Council on Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), further enquiries said that only three slots were received by the Chairman, Mr Andrew Okaikoi but a follow up for the tickets were refused on the flimsy excuse of their being late.

Mr Abdul-Aziz recounted that in 2008, Ghana’s Paralympics team was denied the opportunity to participate in the Paralympics Games in China by the Ministry and it was through the benevolence of some individuals who contributed to buy tickets for two athletes to represent the country.

He said Ghanaian athletes with disability continue to excel in both national and international events with just two of them winning four medals at the Abuja All Africa Games in 2003, six athletes winning nine medals including a gold at the All Africa Games in Algeria in 2007 but regrettably with all these achievements they are not given the due recognition.

The members have therefore called on the government to institute an independent body to investigate the issue and find the whereabouts of the three slots and to ensure that persons with disability are accorded their 10 per cent slot to make the trip to South Africa.

They also recommended that in line with international rules, the structures of the national Paralympics Committee and the Association of Sports for the Disabled be reviewed and re-structured to enable them elect their own leaders instead of being hand-picked by the National Sports Council.

The members called on corporate bodies to team up with the government to invest in disability sports and urged the Ghana Football Association and Ghana Athletics Association to incorporate disability sports events into their agenda and main activities.

Miss Hajara Mohammed and Raphael Botsyo Nkegbe, medallists at the All Africa Games and Bawa Alem of the Disabled Cycling team and Madam Gladys Waadi of the Society of the Blind in Bolgatanga expressed their disappointment about the continued discrimination, neglect and lack of recognition by the government and its agencies.

Source: GNA

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