Former football player hopes to return to competitive sport through Paralympian Search

Canadian Paralympic Committee

April 08, 2019

''Right now I have an open mind about which sport I would pursue.’’



GATINEAU, Que. – Djibril Kande emerged as one of the more imposing figures at the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Paralympian Search this past weekend at the Centre sportif in Gatineau.

It was no surprise to learn the thick-shouldered, six-foot-plus 33-year-old was a former football player. He reached the Canadian junior league level with the Edmonton Wildcats. Now living in Ottawa and coaching football with the North Gloucester Giants, Kande has decided to test the competitive waters again.

Kande lost part of his right leg due to complications from a motorcycle accident.

“So far so good, I love it,’’ said Kande, after an exhausting test on the cycling machine. “I used to do a lot of sports but since I had my accident I’ve kind of stopped. So this really motivates me to get back into it. Right now I have an open mind about which sport I would pursue.’’

Paralympian Search is a one-day athlete identification event designed to test participant aptitudes to excel in various Paralympic sports and introduce people with disabilities to more sport opportunities. There were tests for sprints, strength, and jumping as well as cycling and rowing machine tests.

Meanwhile 19-year-old Amélie Comtois, who also lives in Ottawa, was hoping to gain some solid testing results and take a crack at making the national goalball team.

‘’What impresses me being here is all the people that are interested in Paralympic sport,’’ said the visually impaired University of Ottawa math and computer science student. ‘’It’s fun to be here because it feels like we are all working towards similar goals.’’

The 12 participants on Saturday were being followed closely by several national, provincial and local club coaches. They included Ken Babey, head coach of Canada’s national Para ice hockey team, Greg Picard, head coach of Canada’s Para snowboard squad and Marc Creamer, who directs the Para canoe team.

Benjamin Campin meanwhile runs the Para nordic program at the Nakkertok Club in Gatineau. Like the other coaches, Campin was on hand to seek talent and sell his sport.

‘’We started the program last year,’’ said Campin. ‘’Para nordic adapts to many disabilities. We have an ideal facility with a snowmaking machine so for local Para athletes here, it’s an attractive option.’’

The event’s ambassador was Patrice Dagenais of Canada’s national wheelchair rugby team. He spoke to the participants about his journey to the top of the Para sport world and how it changed his life.

Another national team athlete on hand was Para snowboarder Sandrine Hamel, a double silver medallist last month at the world championships.

‘’I think the athletes here with Paralympic Games aspirations need to ask themselves would they enjoy practicing and working for that sport every day,’’ she said. ‘’When you get to that level, the sport becomes the main focus of your life.

‘’Every decision you make is in relation to excelling in that sport.’’

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