IBSA President Sandro di Girolamo spent time with blind and visually impaired children in Ethiopia ©IBSA

International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) President Sandro di Girolamo visited Ethiopia to launch a new project aimed at giving blind and visually impaired children the chance to access sport.

The "Ethiopian Sport Initiative for Blinds and Visually Impaired" is expected to be implemented in the southern city of Soddo following di Girolamo’s visit.

About 200 children are due to attend a facility for the blind which is set to host a camp for football, torball, goalball and showdown from January 7 to 16.

The first phase of the project is due to consist of introductory training and sports promotion courses for players, coaches and referees.

The IBSA said the main goal of the project was to "guarantee" support for blind and visually impaired young people in Ethiopia through activities that are not yet present in the country.

"At present, Ethiopian children do not participate in any physical education programme and do not even know that there are specific sports disciplines for the blind and visually impaired," a statement from the IBSA read.

"All this despite the fact that the country has one of the highest rates of blindness and low vision in the world, especially among children."

About 200 children are expected to attend the facility for the blind in Soddo ©IBSA
About 200 children are expected to attend the facility for the blind in Soddo ©IBSA

The Union of the Blind of Ethiopia and the Italian Federation of Paralympic Sports for the Visually Impaired (FISPIC) are expected to work with the IBSA to provide technical material, sports equipment and be the main points of reference for training, coaching and refereeing.

"I am delighted to be able to inaugurate this project, which is unique in the world in terms of sport," the IBSA President said.

"Thanks to FISPIC and the collaboration with the IPO association, we will be able to give many children a smile and, above all, give them the chance to play sport.

"Unfortunately, up until now Ethiopia had never organised sports activities for the blind, but now, thanks to the collaboration of the Union of the Blind of Ethiopia and the local institutions that have welcomed our proposals with great enthusiasm, the dream will finally become reality, and IBSA is very happy to be able to promote these projects that will give these athletes the opportunity to participate in our competitions in the future."

Di Girolamo continued his trip to South Africa where he visited the Athlone School and World School - two institutions for the blind in Cape Town.