Goalball: Kenya started the future in Brazil
Date: July 21, 2023
One of the national teams that participated in the 2023 IBSA Goalball Youth World Championships U19, which took place at the Centro de Treinamento Paralímpico of São Paulo, Brazil, for the very first time, was Kenya. With both teams of young boys and girls.
It was the first time that the vast majority of the delegation stepped on a plane and went out of the country!
The coach of both teams, Stephen Ojwan’g, came from Nairobi through France and Ethiopia – split into two groups – with 12 kids, six boys and six girls, to an experience that changed their lives forever.
“We came just to compete, but we had so much more than that”, started Mr. Ojwan’g. “There is only one Goalball ball in the country, so you can imagine how hard it is for us to have training sessions. Besides, we don’t have specific fields of play, and we get most of our sessions in the sand or in the grass outdoors. This was the first time that we played with goal posts, but we compensated for all these obstacles with our strong will and passion for the game”, he added.
#Accessibility – Coach Stephen Ojwan’g is eyepatching his players of Kenya girl’s national team
Mr. Ojwan’g underlined the fantastic surroundings that his country found in São Paulo. All the other coaches helped them in every way, even outside the game context. “We received a lot of gifts, including teddy bears, but most important of all, we have the chance to take with us, back to Kenya, four Goalball balls! Two of them were gifted by Brazil, one from the USA and the other from Korea. Do you know what this means?”, asked Mr. Ojwan’g with a joyful voice. “This means that we can open Goalball academies in our blind schools. Each ball means one new academy, so we can grow our recruitment centres and develop even more of this great sport in Kenya”.
It’s exactly in those schools for blind people that the coach is looking for new players. Jesmin Moraa is the youngest of the group, at only 13 years old (the oldest is 18). “Although she started to practise last month, I brought her with us because she has a real love for the game. She never missed a training session, tries to do everything I ask in the best way, and really dug deep into this. She has a future, so let’s motivate her even more to carry on!”
This participation of both young national teams was entirely funded by the Kenyan government, which is trying to support and raise the spirit of inclusion in Kenyan society, especially through sport.
#Accessibility – Kenya boy’s national team in action during a match of the 2023 IBSA Goalball Youth World Championships. The centre player is catching the ball after one shot from the opponent team.
They lost all the games, which, given the conditions of training, is more than natural. Nevertheless, they manage to score some goals: five for the boys and three for the girls. “We celebrated them as victories, of course! No one can blame us, and nobody did. We don’t have any protective gear, no eyeshades, we cover the eyes with pieces of clothing, but with the ball, we do all the rest. This was an unbelievable experience. We will return to Kenya so much more focused and motivated to go on our programme to give these boys and girls some path for high performance sport so they can reach senior level much more prepared and give some pride to our country”, said Mr. Ojwan’g.
One tremendous story of inspiration can have a glorious ending. Who can remember the first appearances of the female Turkish national team in Goalball, the current Paralympic and World champions?
#Accessibility – Coach Stephen Ojwan’g on the right with both Kenya’s teams of boys and girls that participated in the 2023 IBSA Goalball Youth World Championships at the entrance of the Centro de Treinamento Paralímpico of São Paulo, Brazil.