BlazeSports continues its sport for development work in Haiti

On Friday, March 21st a group of 18 coaches, community leaders, sport professionals gathered at the Centre for Research and Training for Economic and Social Development (CRESFED) for a Sport for Development workshop, facilitated by BlazeSports and Kennesaw State University. The participants had the opportunity to learn about ways in which sport can be use to achieve inclusion in schools and address social issues in Haiti. Dr. Sherrill Hayes, Director of the Masters of Science in Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, facilitated a roundtable where participants had a chance to not only learn from each other but left with concrete action steps to implement in their communities

photo2  “The UNOSDP funded training hosted by Fondation Gerard Pierre-Charles and BlazeSports America was a top-notch professional event. It was energizing to be in a room filled with Haitian professionals from different government Ministries and local NGOs. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn from the trainers,  share and learn from each other was the most encouraging aspect of the day-long workshop for me.  The whole process was facilitated by the instantaneous interpretation conducted by two interpreters and heard through headsets. This application of technology made the training flow quickly without the need for frequent pauses. The participants demonstrated their comprehension of the content by engaging with the trainers and having challenging discussions with each other about both the issues facing and the possibilities for sport for development and peace in Haiti. In contrast to many workshops, this group had more energy by the end of the day and was ready to continue the plans they had developed during the day. Thank you to all the project partners and all the Haitian participants for a transformative experience.” – Sherrill Hayes, Director of the Masters in Science in Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University


 “The workshop was able to remind each participant the power of sports , not just running every day in the news with large global elitephoto3 athletes with large salaries and a whole industry behind it, but also the other sports, which are performed by anonymous people , who practiced in the streets , squares , on the beaches and in the mountains. That practiced by boys and girls without athletic and muscular bodies , seniors , people with disabilities , ourselves, the sport in which one character is and where winning is not the goal , which educates and forge values, improving health, building citizens , sport for all, which is finally a vector of social development.” – Daniel Pierre-Charles, Director of Youth and Sport Programs at the Foundation Gérard Pierre-Charles

As part of BlazeSports initiative in Haiti, the first International Day of Sport for Development and Peace will be celebrated on April 6th. In partnership with the Ministry of Youth Sport and Civic Engagement (MJSAC, acronym in French) BlazeSports and the Foundation Gérard Pierre-Charles  will organize an inclusive sports festival, with children with physical, sensory, intellectual and children without disabilities. In this festival the youth will discover various Paralympic sports such as boccia, sitting volleyball, and games that allow them to improve the perception, coordination and conditioning of the participants with and without disabilities. It will also be an opportunity to raise awareness of disability rights and promote the values ​​associated with sport for all, such as solidarity, environment, fair-play, cooperation and respect.

Posted in Featured, Haiti, International, Programs, Training and Education |

Exclusive Video: BlazeSports’s Jordan Legacy

BlazeSports’ USAID funding for its sport for development project in Jordan came to an end in August this year, but the development work undertaken during the past 2 years continues to produce lasting results. During the project period BlazeSports trained over 200 volunteers, delivered programs for over 2,200 participants and worked in partnership with 13 in country agencies to ensure that a post project legacy was left in place.

This post project legacy and partnership work was demonstrated recently when The Jordanian Football Association (JFA) hosted an inclusive festival attended by over 200 boys and girls in the City of Zarqa.  Furthermore we are proud to report that the festival was organized by Mr Taha Ziadeh, who had completed BlazeSports training programs and held an in-country leadership position during our project. Due to Mr Ziadeh’s delivering, during the 2 year funding period, successful events on behalf of BlazeSports, he has now been subsequently offered a position on staff at JFA. His new remit is to focus organizing soccer opportunities for people with disabilities across Jordan.Inside Jordan

Further to the successes found within soccer, other sports such as Boccia and Field Athletics continue to grow within Paralympic Club networks which, thanks partly to training provided by BlazeSports, are seen to be flourishing in Jordan. Feeding this club system are pupils from schools that have undertaken our Adaptive Physical Education workshops. However the job is far from over and there is much to do to improve sports opportunities and  ultimately the quality of life for persons with a disability in Jordan, but gradually improvements are beginning to become visible.

To celebrate the sustained success and progress of our sport for development project in Jordan, BlazeSports is releasing this video that highlight our work in the Jordan. The video features footage across a number of sport and social development area from disability and women’s’ rights to Syrian refugee and youth leadership empowerment. 

Posted in Featured, Football 7-a-side, Global Initiatives, International, News |

CPISRA Technical Development Workshops in Africa

BlazeSports’ Director of International Development, Stuart Sharp, as part of his role with CPISRA as Head of Technical Control recently visited Sierra Leone to deliver a CP seven a side workshop. The first of two CPISRA Technical Development Workshops, targeting the African Region, was held in Sierra Leone in October. The workshop, which was delivered in partnership with the Sierra Leone FA and the National Paralympic Committee, was attended by 42 participants and hosted at the country’s National Football Stadium. The content focused on coach education, classification and  development structures to help those attended to have the appropriate knowledge to build CP football programs in the future.

BlazeSports' Director of International Sport Development Stuart Sharp

BlazeSports’ Director of International Sport Development Stuart Sharp

Mr Unisa Deen Kargbo, who met with the CPISRA football committee members during the 2012 Paralympic Games, was instrumental in bring the course to Sierra Leone. He  said upon reflection  ” this workshop has been excellent in providing the tools which we need to take the game forward in our country. We will now use this newly gained knowledge to position our athletes into 4 teams to play within a league structure. It is of course our dream to reach the Paralympics one day and now the hard work begins”. 

Both the opening and closing ceremonies attached to the course were attended, by several important dignitaries including the country’s Minister of Sport. During the ceremony, which was broadcast on national television, the Minister pledged to support the development of CP football in the country and looked forward to seeing the national team in action for the first time. 

Rene Jurrius, one of the CPISRA course tutors said “I am really pleased with the level of organization and structure being provided to CP football in Sierra Leon . The players here have a great deal of potential and I feel with further development they could go on to represent their country strongly”.

René Jurrius, CPISRA tutor in front of workshop particuipants

René Jurrius, CPISRA tutor in front of workshop participants

Stuart Sharp,BlazeSports’ Director of International Development and  CPISRA’s Head of Technical Control for football was also in attendance and remarked “I hope that those who have completed this course become agents of change in the country. CP football, and sport in general, for persons with disabilities can provide multiple long term benefits to an individual’s quality of life. I hope that the enthusiasm shown by the course participants can be sustained and new opportunities can now be created for CP football in the country.  Following the strengthening of grassroot structures I hope to see Sierra Leone emerge from the African Region and be represented on the world stage”.

As part of a targeted approach to increase the number of counties participating from the African region, CPISRA will return to the continent in December to train a new set of coaches, referees and administrators but this time Tunisa.

Posted in Featured, Football 7-a-side, Global Initiatives, International, News |

BlazeSports Haitian alumni put theory into practice

Haitian Amputee Soccer Championship

Haitian Amputee Soccer Championship

BlazeSports was back in Haiti for a week in October as part of their ongoing United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) funded project. A busy week of events and training culminated with the National Disability Sport Festival hosted in Merchand Dessalines.

Watch BlazeSports’ week in Haiti – October 10-18 2013

 The week of activity kicked off by an Amputee Soccer Workshop, where 31 soccer coaches and enthusiasts attended the event. Coach Derek Arnaud, member of the US Soccer Athletes Council, who supported BlazeSports staff in delivering the workshop said, “It was amazing to see the enthusiasm and desire of the Haitian coaches to make a difference to their country and players. There are without doubt many obstacles in the way of developing soccer in this country but I am thankful I was given this opportunity by BlazeSports to, in a small way, help assist the development process.”

Following the workshop, BlazeSports staff had the opportunity to watch the semifinal matches of the Haitian Amputee Soccer Championship in Mirebalais. The Championship was sponsored by the UNOSDP disability sport project and organized by the Haitian Amputee Soccer Federation and BlazeSports.

On October 17th, a festive day in Haiti, over 500 persons with disabilities participated in the National Disability Sport Festival organized by the Haitian Paralympic Committee. BlazeSports’ previously trained coaches planned, organized, and delivered the activities at this event. The participants were divided in group of 50 and had the opportunity to experience recreational games, powerlifting, table tennis, basketball, sit volleyball, and athletics.

Concluding the festivities was the final of the Haitian Amputee Soccer Championship won by Team Zaryen. BlazeSports’ intern Sam Zapatka was in Haiti for the first time and recognized “it was incredible to see first-hand the power sport has on people with physical disabilities and its ability to bring people together”

It was a very successful week for disability sports in Haiti. BlazeSports staff were delighted to witness, throughout the week, the leadership skills of BlazeSports in-country alumni who were trained previously thanks to a US Department of State SportsUnited project. Stuart Sharp, BlazeSports Director of International Development, evaluated the successful week in Haiti, “It is clear there is an emergence of new leaders with positive attitudes towards persons with disabilities in Haiti. There is no doubt there is still a long way to go however with this new generation comes a new opportunity for hope and future for Paralympic sport and those with disabilities in the country to realize their full potential.”

Posted in Featured, Football 7-a-side, Haiti, International, News |

BlazeSports is Heading Back to Haiti

Institut Monfort 041

BlazeSports will be back in Haiti from October 10th to 17th  as part of the Disability Sport Project in Haiti funded by the UN Offices on Sport for Development and Peace. This project has served over 2000 Haitians with disabilities since its establishment in October 2011. 

During a week long trip, BlazeSports will deliver an amputee soccer workshop, host an amputee soccer tournament, deliver a mini disability sport festival at a partner school, and will partner with the Haitian Paralympic Committee in hosting a National Disability Sport Festival for over 500 Haitians with disabilities.

In addition to these activities, BlazeSports will be reuniting with the 18 alumni of the SportUnited cultural exchange that took place in Atlanta this past May. The 6 emerging leaders who were a part of the SportUnited funded project will be engaged in the BlazeSports’ activities in October. While the 12 kids and youth that travelled to Atlanta will take part in the National Disability Festival. 

Posted in Featured, Haiti, International, News |

BlazeCamp Video: Our Time with the Haitians

This years BlazeCamp was enhanced, thanks to funding from The U.S. Department of State’s SportsUnited Division, with a cultural exchange of 12 children with disabilities and 6 emerging leaders from Haiti. Our guests, in addition to attending BlazeCamp, also visited a variety of locations in the Atlanta area including Kennesaw State University, The Georgia Aquarium, Stone Mountain and the Atlanta Dream.

However it was the Haitian’s time camp at BlazeCamp where with friendships being formed, using sport as a common language, with US campers that was truly inspirational.  

U.S. camper Maya Kahn commented on her time with the kids from Haiti – “This was probably the best part about camp. These kids were the sweetest kids I have ever met. I loved learning about their Haitian culture and getting to talk with them, well at least trying to! I love how they were always telling me, “You are beautiful,” when really they are the beautiful ones. I’m really going to miss them!” 


The video below provides a brief insight into some of the activities our Haitian guests got up to:

Posted in Camp, Featured, International, News |

Sports Helps Injured Syrian Refugees and Jordanians Find Common Ground

syrian refugees and jordanians find common ground thru sport



Stuart Sharp,, +1 404-402-4634   

Abdullah Alyamani, BlazeSports In-Country Coordinator: +962 787 00 742


             Sports Helps Injured Syrian Refugees and Jordanians Find Common Ground


BlazeSports, an NGO founded as the legacy of the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games, is making a difference using sport as a vehicle to increase the self esteem and social tolerance of Syrian refugees in Jordan.


AMMAN, JORDAN – As part of the World Refugee Day celebrations, 40 Syrian refugees with disabilities will attend a USAID-funded sports festival at the National Paralympic Committee of Jordan (NPCJ) sports facility on Friday June 21 from 1pm to 4pm. The Festival will mark only the second time this injured and often ostracized group have ventured out of their rehabilitation center in Amman.

The group, who is supported by the Syrian NGO “This is My Life”, was encouraged to step outside their compound for the first time after hearing of another BlazeSports and NPCJ Sports Festival held the previous week. During this festival the Syrian refugees were only spectators looking on as Jordanians with disabilities participated in a variety of adapted sporting events. However, after encouragement from BlazeSports staff and Matthew Underwood, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer with the US Embassy, the Syrian attendees agreed to venture from their seats and speak with some of the Jordanian participants. As conversations began to develop, both groups discussed their life experiences together while finding a common ground via their love of sports.

On Friday the Syrian Refugee Disability Sports Festival will see Jordanian coaches, previously trained by BlazeSports, deliver a variety of events and use sport as a common language to convey messages of social tolerance and friendship. Stuart Sharp, BlazeSports Director of International Development, said “This was a very exciting development of our work in Jordan and truly shows the power that sport has when it comes to breaking down barriers and building social tolerance. We hope that we can now find funding to continue our efforts in Jordan to support conflict resolution and highlight areas of commonality between the people of Jordan and Syrian refugees through sport”.

Notes for Editors:

World Refugee Day:

Festival Address: 

National Paralympic Committee of Jordan
Sport City Area Al Riyadah
PO Box 960562 


Pictures of BlazeSports’ USAID-funded Jordan Project:


About BlazeSports America  

BlazeSports America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, that empowers children and adults with physical disabilities worldwide through sport.  Formed in 1993, as the direct legacy of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Paralympic Games, BlazeSports programs and services encourage lifelong health, build leadership skills, foster independence and inclusion, and promote an inclusive society.  For more information about BlazeSports’ international efforts, visit



Posted in Featured, Football 7-a-side, International, News |