Disability Sports Association
Greatest Goal Ministries' Disability Sports Association team, Salone Flying Stars, is featured in this video below.
The Salone Flying Stars are 25 amputee athletes based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, whose passion for soccer transcends their disabilities. This is the first registered team of the newly formed Disability Sports Association (DSA). Other disabled teams (polio, deaf, amputees) will be forming soon. Chicagoans Matt Jenkins was working on an agricultural project in Sierra Leone in February 2012 when he saw the team playing soccer on the beach with their crutches. According to Matt, "What happened next changed my life forever." Along with his partner Cynthia Frahm, he was inspired to create the video and to fundraise for the DSA.
Matt Jenkins and Cynthia Frahm fundraised for the Disability Sports Association (DSA). Their "Shoot for the Stars" fundraiser and the "Salone Flying Stars Party" in Michigan raised $3645 to provide soccer uniforms and equipment for the Salone Flying Stars and other teams enrolled in DSA. Read more on their Facebook page:
Greatest Goal Ministries USA establishes the first
Disability Sports Association in Sierra Leone
Amputee football (soccer) began in Sierra Leone, West Africa shortly after the war in 2001 with the establishment of (SLASC) the Single Leg Amputee Football Club. Through SLASC, amputee players were transformed from victims of war to victors on the playing field.
During the past ten years five teams and 120 players have participated in SLASC. For many amputees, however, the program has not expanded and expectations have not been met. Many of the original players are looking for a change.
Being an amputee in the poorest country in the world means a very difficult life. Many amputees had several limbs amputated during the war. Some are amputees by landmines, others from accidents. Whatever the cause, the outcome remains the same. They are stigmatized, ostracized and treated as if they are unworthy.
In October 2011 other disabled in Sierra Leone, in addition to the amputees, began to vocalize their desire to belong to a sports association. GGM USA has responded to this call for change by establishing the first Disability Sports Association in Sierra Leone. GGM USA will provide oversight and assist with funding opportunities and equipment as possible but the newly elected executive committee and local clubs will all participate in the actual task of operating the association.
Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of an individual and/or the community. Often it involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities. The GGM Disability Sports Association has been organized to do just that. Disability sports can help build confidence by giving players a choice. This will be accomplished by:
- Allowing players to establish and participate in a club close to home. The team participants will not need to travel and spend their funds on transportation costs.
- The team members will write their own bylaws with their own elected club members following the framework of GGM Disability Sports Association constitution.
- All disabled groups will have the opportunity to participate in the associations decision making which will further strengthen the association.
- Sporting events can be easily coordinated between the groups.
- Donations of equipment and supplies can be quickly distributed among the identified association teams.
The teams will also be encouraged to participate in community events and attend community forums where they can speak on behalf of the tens of thousands of amputees and disabled within the country.
GGM USA will also be creating ways that teams can serve as mentors to others. Many in Sierra Leone could find hope in watching the most marginalized segment of the population rise above the hardships and difficulties with a "together we can" attitude. "Together" the athletes can find camaraderie and strength. Formation of girls teams are also being encouraged.