The world is about to witness some of the best deaf athletes parade at the upcoming 23rd summer Deaflympics slated for Samsun, Turkey, starting on July 18, 2017.
While the best are to showcase talent at the extravaganza, none from the local deaf athletes have made the cut to compete at the cr├¿me dela cr├¿me bound to shine at games.
With this in mind, former PASSOBO President and Confederation of African Deaf Sport (CADS) Shirley Keoagile is determined to close the gap by finding ways to revive local ‘deaf sport’.
Keoagile is expected to jet out of the country next week on a mission to benchmark at the upcoming screening of preparations of the Deaflympics games in.
While attending the seminar, Keoagile will be representing Botswana and the continent at large as she is part of the CADS board as the Secretary General after being elected last year in South Africa at the elective general assembly.
Keoagile told this publication in an interview that her intentions are to open doors for local athletes to shine in the biggest arena in the near future.
“There is a lot that needs to be done locally to develop the sport, so I will be going to Turkey to benchmark, learn and strive to revive the sport during my tenure.
“Heading to Turkey I have a task by representing both for my country and Africa push for support to develop deaf sport both locally, regionally and continentally,” Keoagile said.
She said it was critical that relevant offices understand the nature of the sport and plan accordingly to accommodate deaf sport.
“At the moment we are struggling locally due to lack of recognition and understanding of deaf sport by relevant authorities. We have engaged the Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) in an effort to educate the mother body,” explained Keoagile.
The former PASSOBO president further said it should be understood that Deaflympics and Paralympics does not fall in the same plate hence the importance to understand their differences and support them equally.
“Despite deaf sport making a major impact with a large scale of athletes as PASSOBO affiliates, we continue to witness lack of participation from local athletes at the highest stage. It is upon me to make a difference and forge for change by seeking plans that will accommodate local athletes to compete at the championships in the near future,” Keoagile said.
In conclusion, Keoagile explained that she would be accompanying CADS president Mohamed Madoun in their efforts to advocate for Africa to get support from the international community to push the sport to greater heights.
“We are challenged in Africa due to circumstances beyond us so it is critical that we engage all stakeholders to assist in bridging the gap to have more athletes competing at these games and it is a given that there is lots of talent that can be appreciated across the globe,” said Keoagile.