The Special Olympics Organization has a very specific and bold mission and Special Olympics Namibia (SON) is no different. Its mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community. Sport truly is a great unifier and the athletes that partake in the Special Olympics achieve greatness through their dedication, determination, and unstoppable attitude.
The actual Special Olympics that take place are quite well-known around the world and the next major event will take place in Germany in 2023. However, this is not all that the Special Olympics is focused on and certainly not the only thing that SON does for its athletes. From 31 July – to 6 August 2022, Detroit will host as many as 32 men’s and women’s football teams—nearly 600 athletes with and without intellectual disabilities—from more than 30 nations. Namibia has been invited to participate and the women’s football team is eager to go and show off their skill, talent, and dedication and of course bring home a trophy. This event will embody the mission and vision of the Special Olympics and will show the world what inclusion truly means and will show how sports can unify people and countries. To be able to participate the SON and the female football team needs sponsorship to participate in the event in America.
Sports in Namibia always struggle with funding and that is not surprising, as there are so many areas in the country that need financial aid in some form or another. However, we have seen how sports unify Namibia, and how it has put us not the world map. Not just our amazing able-bodied athletes such as Christine Mboma, our boxers and no one can forget our very own Frankie Fredericks. Our Paralympic Team’s achievements made our nation proud and Johanna Benson became a national hero for her achievements and rightly so. The athletes with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to participate in an event that will put them on an international stage. They have the possibility to shine a light on the challenges faced by people with Intellectual Disabilities, they will be able to show that they can and do go above and beyond expectations and be true sporting heroes.
The Special Olympics athletes and the sportsmen and women that play football truly go above and beyond and receive little to no funding at all for that matter. The Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture together with the Ministry of Sports Youth and National Service are working together with GIZ to promote physical education and sports through their Integrated Physical Education and School Sports (IPESS) and Sport4Development project. They have assisted SON greatly, but private sector sponsorship is essential and has been lacking up to now. We urge sponsors to get on board and be part of the joyous sporting event and give athletes with Intellectual Disabilities a chance to shine on an international stage.