Seychelles sending 20 athletes to first-ever Special Olympics Africa competition
The athletes in a training session on Tuesday at the Stade Popiler. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles is participating in the first-ever Special Olympics Pan African Games scheduled for January 23-31 in Cairo, Egypt.
The national director of Special Olympics Seychelles, Helene Ernesta, who will also head the delegation, told SNA on Saturday that although the invitation came late, a team of 20 athletes are ready for the Games.
"Our athletes practice every Sunday so it was not a problem to put a team together. We have 20 athletes and this includes eight players for the five-a-side football competition, eight athletes for the track and field athletics competition and four for the bocce competition," said Ernesta.
|Practice session for the players taking part in the bocce competition. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The first-ever Special Olympics Pan African Games will be a joint event hosted by the Special Olympics Middle East, North Africa and Africa regions, marking the first time that two Special Olympics regions have joined forces to create a combined Games.
The mission of the Pan African Games is to provide a high-quality sports experience and engage key influencers and communities to help create positive attitudes and bring about permanent change towards the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities throughout the continent of Africa.
The Games will include a series of sports and non-sports events in which around 800 athletes from 42 countries will compete. The sports events are athletics, football, basketball and bocce – a ball game related to British bowling or French petanque. The games will have other range of activities such as healthy athletes medical screenings and a regional youth leadership summit.
Although team Seychelles is ready, Ernesta is appealing to anyone who can assist in any way to get in touch with the Special Olympics Seychelles.
|Team Seychelles for the first Pan African Games. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
"We would have liked to bring more athletes but we don't have the financial means to do so especially as the invitation to the games came late. We were asked to bring a large group of athletes but we don't have enough money to cover airfares and other logistical arrangements," she said.
The team leaves on Thursday via Dubai onwards to Cairo.
Three out of the 20 athletes have previously taken part in international events but Seychellois participants in international special Olympics events have always brought good results.
"Like I always say, our athletes have always performed well and we expect them to give their very best but even if they don't win any medals Special Olympics is all about participation," said Ernesta.