Goalball, a football game for the visually impaired persons is slowly gaining entry into Uasin Gishu County courtesy of Sebastian Amoi.
Amoi, an engineer by profession lost his eyesight in his 28th year after serving at Kenya Youth Service as a road contractor and former employee of defunct Municipal Council of Eldoret before losing his sight.
According to Amoi, the sport which has not been received much in the country, said it involves passing a ball that has a bell on it, so a player listens and concentrates carefully to the sound of the moving ball, grabs it and passes to his teammate .
As a coordinator of goalball in Uasin Gishu said he has a team of eleven players who have embraced the sport as he tries to reach out to many visually impaired individuals to impress the game.
Speaking in Eldoret during Speaking on the final day of Sports Forum in Eldoret organized by the Ministry of Sports, Amoi said: “With a few people that I have, it is difficult for me to bring on board as many layers as possible but I fail to reach out to many since blind people have little access to information.”
He added that sports has changed many disabled people’s lives and it will be good if the message is passed across them.
“If you want to play goalball then you can look for me. In Uasin Gishu we are working to get more players but lack of information has hindered us to reach out to many. Sports is doing well to the people living with disability. My target is to make a team that work well within the county,” said Amoi.
After he lost his eyes in his 28th birthday, he enrolled at Maseno university for a special education programme in computer, met different friends from different schools that introduced him into the rare sport.
“Those blind friends introduced me to the sport at Maseno University and after learning it fully, I decided to introduce it to Uasin Gishu after working there for quite sometime where the response is well received and sinking into individuals’ minds. Am targeting by end of 2016 to have a well equipped team of players plus qualified coaches for the game and get sponsors too,” he said.
as a dedicated coordinator, he said he had discussed with county sports officer who was interested in the sport and promised him that in the next financial year, he will support them.
“Playing such a game, needs young, energetic and skillful people who can easily embrace the sport. To that, they must gain enough exposure that is lacking in many residents. I will be going through schools to reach out. I want also to reach to the people whom lost their eyes and they are just sitting in their houses and others hidden by parents and i have taken initiative to sensitize them about the game that they can do,” he said.
But despite his struggles to create awareness to the field, he faces many challenges together with his blind people in the society.
“We are face many challenges to impress the sport especially in movement. A person with blindness, has a problem with mobility, scary of movements but to eliminate such impression, they undergo an orientation and mobility awareness where they are taught on how to move after losing their sight. At the same time, the game involves less running but keen listening, holding the ball and passing to the next player as it makes noise. The second challenge is getting to these people and knowing where they are since they are ‘behind bars’ who may not really contribute a lot to the activities going around compared to the deaf who have very good network. Above all, am trusting in God to give me the strength and reach out to these people.
Playing ground has posed a big challenge in the game as there are no good playing fields with no potholes. As Kipchoge Keino stadium gets a facelift, he intends to sweet-talk county government to use the stadium.
“I heard that Kipchoge keino is becoming the best stadium in the country that may have a few potholes, which can be a good pace for us. Am doing a proposal to the county government to allow us use the facility. At the same time, goalball is not a vigorous game that involves short movements therefore we only need a few space,” said.
While saying that few of them are taking part in the competitions, they also want to be included in the office work.
“People should embrace disability and their issues should be inclusive. This will enable us to embrace sports to better,” Amoi said.
With only able-bodied one working in the ministry, he said it is difficult since most of the works suit the normal people.
“Things like Braille for the blind should be factored in and I am amazed that I am a facilitator here and I don’t see my presentation in such form,”Amoi lamented.
In a quick rejoinder, Sports registrar Rose Wasike said the ministry had tried accommodating them and such policies are being created.