Future Full of Hope
February 16, 2011
At birth, Deon Namiseb was all but discarded but Special Olympics gave him a chance and hope. Today Deon is an accomplished athlete and a role model.
Deon Namiseb was captain of the Special Olympics football team that went on to win silver. Since then, he has helped plan the 2008 Football for Hope week.
Future Full of Hope
Deon Namiseb wants to challenge all expectations about people with intellectual disabilities – especially all low expectations. When Deon was born in Namibia in 1978, doctors saw he had multiple disabilities and some paralysis. They had the infant pushed into a corner and left to die. But Deon’s aunt was on the hospital cleaning staff and rescued her young nephew from what could have been fatal neglect.
In those years, many other people shared those doctors’ low expectations. As a result, Deon recalls that his childhood and youth were "a bit difficult." But then he found Special Olympics.
Deon Namiseb has been recognized as a national sports hero across Namibia, where he has contributed immensely to his country by actively advocating for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities.
A New Life
Deon has been involved with Special Olympics since 1998, the year the organization was established in Namibia. He says Special Olympics has changed his life "for the better" and "opened doors."
He took part in his country’s first-ever football and track and field events and was selected as an alternate to represent Namibia in the World Summer Games in Dublin. By the 2007 World Games, he was captain of the Special Olympics football team that went on to win silver. Since then, he has helped plan the 2008 Football for Hope week and the 2009 Unified Basketball Competition.
Deon is always seeking new ways to serve his community. He helps out at his mother’s kindergarten for orphans and other vulnerable children. He coaches a senior female football team in a shantytown in Namibia’s capital. He is a certified Special Olympics assistant coach for the Football for Hope Movement. And he works with students who are repeating Grade 10 at Namibia College, doing his best to help them succeed.
A Hero and an Advocate
Deon Namiseb has been recognized as a national sports hero across Namibia, where he has contributed immensely to his country by actively advocating for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities. He has received the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year award, part of the national Namibian Sports Award. He was captain of the Special Olympics Namibian Soccer Team when it won the Disabled Sports Team of the Year Award. Deon was recently selected as an International Global Messenger, representing millions of athletes with intellectual disabilities and speaking out to raise awareness around the globe about the power of sports "Special Olympics has helped me get involved in sports and get my message out," says Deon, 32, who has taken part in football and athletics. Deon has left behind an early life full of hardships and says he only looks ahead – because "both my present and future are full of hope."