By Tabora bojang
The Special Olympics of Association the Gambia on Monday received five (5) boxes of sporting equipment and other valuables from Nike Belgium meant to boost the revitalization process of the Association that was dormant for some time.
The special Olympic project now special Athletes of the Gambia was established in the 80s by prominent veteran Gambians such as the late Ousainou Njie, Babou Ceesay, the living football legend Biri among others who have supported the special Olympics programme and have registered gains but the Association later collapsed due to “financial difficulties”.
Mr. Alieu Cham the coordinator of special athletes Gambia praised the donors (Nike Belgium) for the gesture describing it very timely because the revitalising the association has become a primary goal.
“We started this programme since 1987 but it was down due to financial constraints and support, and now our dream is to revive special Olympics to get it to where it was because the people who were behind us were very strong and committed to helping athletes particularly the special Olympics programme” Cham said.
He said the special athletes of the Gambia will want to collaborate with partners to be able to help “these intellectually disabled” athletes to be able to give them the opportunity to practice sports, revive them as well as offer the opportunities for them to come together and socialize.
Luc Verschelden a tourism and hospitality consultant and pioneering member of the special athletes of the Gambia patrons said; “We were very lucky to receive a donation from Nike Belgium in five boxes, toys and other materials that our athletes will need. The main objective of special Olympics is to give these people their place in the society that they belong with back” Luc added.
Luc, a former General Manager of the The Kairaba Beach Hotel recalled in 1995 when he employed one of them to the Kairaba beach hotel and one of them was eventually adopted by a Danish family who in turn built a house for his mother. “This proved that mentally less able persons still have their place in the society.
“We want everybody to come on board to ensure the successful implementation of our activities to keep the Association Dynamic If you have children and family members who are mentally challenged we urge them to come and register with us”, he said.
According to him even though the Association has been dormant the most important thing for them is to keep these athletes active by engaging them into series of sporting activities to revive and integrate them into society.
The Association hailed the Brussels Airlines for the free transportation of the materials from Belgium to Gambia and tour operators Gambia Tours.