“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” This is the word of Leo Buscaglia on kindness to the human race.
This was proven right by the look on the faces of the students of the Ekiti State School for the deaf and blind, Ikere Ekiti when the Smarter Hospital Foundation of Amsterdam donated four sets of jerseys and two footballs to the school soccer team recently.
Mr Bouke van der Voet, chairman SmarterHospital Foundation said he saw how much the kids love to play soccer during his first visit to the school but noticed that the balls they played were in bad shape.
“This is a gift from the SmarterHospital Foundation and Kelsen Rodrigues, a friend from Brazil as we want to do something that will stay for a while with the kids. We are also working on getting more support from IBM as well”, said Mr van der Voet.
Presenting the jerseys which are in four different colours for four different teams, Mr Bouke said he is presenting the gifts to the students so they can have their own outfits, play their games.
“In a few weeks, the Brazilian Confederation of Sports for Visually Disable (Confederacato Brasileira De Desporte Com Deficiencia Visuaz) will donate two soccer balls that are specially made for the blind people so that the blind students can also participate. The football has a little bell inside so when the ball rolls they can actually hear it since they cannot see it. The Brazilian Confederation of Sports for Visually Disable are three time Olympic Champions in a row and two shirts signed by the Olympic champion team will be donated to the school with the balls as a memory of what they are doing for the school with the hope that Blind Soccer in Nigeria might grow from here.
We hope that your team will be the best team in blind soccer and in the normal soccer. This is just a gift from us, one colour to each team.”
On why the football for the blind, Mr van der Voet replied that they spoke to a few kids that are actually blind and they talked about the inability to join their peers in playing football. This was what prompted Kelsen to start talking to the Brazilian Confederation of Sports for Visually Disable on getting the footballs for the blind.
He thought that it would be nice to have them also play soccer because they asked him if the blind people play soccer in Brazil, for he founded the foundation that is actually helping that.
The blind people play a lot of soccer in the Netherlands and they use their own team. And we thought that it will be nice for them to have their own team, their own clothing and they can play matches and do it in the proper way, said van der Voet. The school presently have three teams and as a result they will need to constitute a fourth team.
Mr Omokanju Jacob, the principal of the school was full of gratitude to the foundation for the wonderful gifts.
“In fact this is just wonderful. We are seriously in need of these things and the materials came at the nick of time,” he said.
On how this will aid the student in their learning, Mr Omokanju said that through this they will be able to play and organise themselves as a real team. “With this now, people will soon see us out there playing and encouraging others. Both blind and deaf can come to the school. For them it is a success for others to see, to know that blindness or the issue of deafness is not the end and even with that condition they too can still make it in life. So we are very happy”, he concludes.
Talking on what advantage this will be for the kids, the chairman of SmarterHospital Foundation said “I think it will place them at the level where they suppose to be with the normal kids that can see and hear and can play soccer. They are not messed up, for they wear the same clothes, they play the same game and I hope it will give them a good feeling for themselves and they can actually progress from there, just as an inspiration”.
On the integration of the challenged into the society, he noted that he hasn’t seen much of them been integrated into the community, but from what he has read they are not the most acceptable group in the society.
“If you can help them as they are the less fortunate ones, I think it’s a step forward for their own state of mind that they are not left behind people, they are the same people as you and me and the only problem is they cannot see or hear. But they can play soccer as well as the other team, or the other normal kids so why not make an enabling environment for them, and treat them the same way. The society makes sure that the normal kids get everything that they want, why not the impaired as well, they are as equal as the normal kids.
He noted that the greatest moment for him is when the girls decided they want to have their own team and also play football. Though they never thought of this but luckily the jerseys are unisex so they can wear it. Furthermore more was the team of 12 that was quickly formed by the ladies. “Of course when the balls come they will have to share everything, there is no difference between boys, girls, blind, mute, deaf, and normal kids. They are all the same people, I hope that’s what it will bring to them and they will realise it as well, he concludes.
Last modified: April 29, 2013