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Sitting Volleyball as a tool for injured combatants’ rehabilitation and peace-building


Sitting Volleyball as a tool for injured combatants’ rehabilitation and peace-building

Read how the paralympic sport of sitting volleyball has managed to make former injured combatants feel empowered and has led to social change to post conflict areas, like Sri Lanka

Sitting volleyball

Sitting volleyball is an adapted sport that, unlike conventional volleyball, allows persons with various limb amputations to participate on an equal basis by playing seated. The sport relies on a varied combination of arms and legs for movement on the floor, thus preventing vertical trauma associated with jumping on a prosthetic lower limb in conventional volleyball.

Vehicle to former militants’ rehabilitation

In certain countries, like the US there are programs that seek to engage injured warriors in paralympic sports. USA Volleyball organises several clinics a year to military cadre and therapists so that they can return to their home bases to teach their wounded warriors.

James Stuck was a natural athlete and a soccer player. After Iraq, his lower leg had to be amputated. He was introduced to adaptive sports and sitting volleyball through a Paralympic Military Summit, an opportunity for injured war veterans to learn about and try a variety of activities in the hopes to encourage daily physical activity. "The whole idea of a military summit is to get wounded soldiers and disabled vets confident in different sports" Stuck says.
Visit the Free Library website to read the full story of James

Bosnia - emptiness transforms into possibility
Following the end of violent conflict in Bosnia in 1995, which left thousands of people injured, groups of individuals with war-time injuries organized sitting volleyball teams throughout the country. Samir is a proud captain of a Bosnian sitting volleyball team created in 1996. “Sport has created an opportunity for an identity change,” Samir states. “A sense of emptiness and hopelessness has been transformed into possibility and energy that identify me as an athlete.”

In Bosnia, sitting volleyball has become so sophisticated that there are currently three leagues and even two professional teams. On the international stage the success of this program was recognized at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, when Bosnia defeated four-time champion Iran for the gold medal.

Visit the Brown Medicine Website to read the full Samir’s story

Sri Lanka – rehabilitation and peace-building
Beyond the rehabilitation of combatants, in Sri Lanka sitting volleyball also contributes to peace-building. Three former women rebel fighters handicapped from the war from the north of Sri Lanka have made their international appearance along with compatriots from the south in disabled volleyball next month.

Malarvili Paramalingam from Kilinochchi was one such young girl who believed her seniors. What she heard then of outside rebel held area was that it was full of human who are 'beasts and killers'.
"When I first visited Colombo weeks ago I still was nervous thinking if I would be treated as a prey. My parents were reluctant to send me off. They were scared and had doubts. But now I understand that it's all incorrect. There's not a pinch of difference from us in the north and others in the south," Malar as she was introduced by the officials of Sri Lanka National Volleyball Federation for Disabled (SLNVFD) told the media on Thursday in Colombo.

Malar lost an entire leg due to the war. She was discovered by the Ministry of Sports of Sri Lanka from the shrubs off the main town of Kilinochchi after the success of a chain of sports programmes held in her region.
"Youths like Malar who are handicapped will now have an opportunity to make up their lives and contribute to the country in a more productive way. Sport is a perfect bridge to gap out all our differences and win the world," said Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage.

"What occurred in the past is gone. I don't like to think about it. What I'm concerned is about the future which looks fruitful. I will have the opportunity to give, do something dutiful to our motherland through this sport. I think all should see positively and look forward to make Sri Lanka a better place globally in sports," said a hopeful Malar who wishes to reach the pinnacle in disabled volleyball.
Read the full Malar’s story on the Sunday Times


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Vangelis Alexandrakis


Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 23:00