Meet the man who introduced blind football to Uganda
For the first time in his life, Charles Onyango was blind – and that was a good thing. “I was born in a very poor family in a small town in the rural area of Uganda,” he recalls. “But my parents never made me feel that I did not belong to them.”
He did belong to his community though. “I was born and brought up in the church. The family we lived in were Christians and the members of our church were the closest people to us,” explains Charles.
With a dream to take the blind football game in Uganda to the next level, Charles, along with three other blind people, started to train and play football with other blind people at a local stadium.
In 2013, along with the coaching team, Charles founded the Blind Sports Association Uganda (BSAU), a non-profit organisation that aims at making blind sports and its coaching programme accessible for all blind people in Uganda. Charles has since been instrumental in mentoring and training young blind people on how to play football at grassroots level.
Despite all the challenges, Charles says that his team never gave up. “The most important part of helping people live happier lives is sharing success with them and giving them confidence. It’s the main reason why blind sports are growing very fast in this region.
“We are not just talking about football here, we’re talking about the many benefits that come with sports for the blind, like confidence, participation, social inclusion,” says Charles.
There is a lot of support and guidance from the government on the other end of the spectrum.
“We have the Ministry of Gender and Child Development working with us to educate the community on gender sensitive sports. We also have the Ministry of Education working with us to help establish a football school,” he says.
These initiatives have helped the team develop and further expand their football programme.
For the last five years, the Blind Sports Association Uganda (BSAU) has been working tirelessly to create a space for blind sports and the blind sports community to thrive. Charles says this is because they understand the importance of being involved in sports for the betterment of society.
“We feel that being involved in sports for the benefit of our own community and for the