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Mentally challenged girl wins international award in special Olympics

Mitchel Mapenzi, 18, who won the medal for her extra performance in saving goals for her team during the tournament held in Chicago

A mentally challenged girl from Kilifi County has won an international award in the Global special Olympics games held in Chicago USA, late 2018.
Mitchel Mapenzi, 18, who completed Standard 8 in 2018 at the Konjora primary school in Kibarani ward, mental health special unit, won the medal for her extra performance in saving goals for her team during the tournament held in Chicago.
Her soccer team of integrated players (both mentally challenged and able bodied) from Kilifi County emerged fourth out of the eight teams which played, but she was recognized as the best goal keeper in the tournament held between July 17th and 21st in 2018.
Speaking to the press at the school Saturday, Mapenzi could not hide her joy for getting the award in Chicago; something that has changed her life and even the perception of the society about mentally challenged persons.
“I started my career of Special Olympics in 2014, my interests were in football soccer and specifically goalkeeper,” Mapenzi said.
She said her parents have been very supportive since childhood and have never mistreated her like some of her colleagues who are suffering in the society because of their health condition.
“The girl from a poverty stricken family was initially being discriminated and neglected for her state, but has now become a darling of everyone due to her achievement,” said her trainer Nicholus Kai.
“She liked football and mostly goalkeeping, she served as the keeper at Konjora primary school and also plays for Kilifi north sub County team,” he said.
Kai added that the girl was among a team selected by FIFA football for hope package that aims at training those with mental challenges, adding that the program was launched in three counties namely Kajiado, Makueni and Kilifi.
Kai who is a coach at the Special Olympic Kenya said he has received many training opportunities in the country and now has been elevated to the level of a trainer.
The journey to Chicago he said, begun after FIFA partnered with Special Olympics to initiate a unified Special Olympics in 2017.
Kai said during the tournament Mapenzi saved so many goals and exhibited experience, skills which earned her the ‘Golden Globe award’.
When they came back to Kenya, he said, the Ministry of Sports gave each player including Mapenzi Sh50, 000 as a reward.
By Simon Guruba

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