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Supporting the development of inclusive sport

Copyrights: FAME Foundation

Supporting the development of inclusive sport

Anna Mambula explains the small steps that can be taken to start making sport more inclusive for all.

Sport is an area of life in which people with disabilities unarguably have less favorable experiences than their non-disabled peers and competitors. There is a great need to actively involve persons with disabilities in all areas of life, and sport is not an exception. It has been a tool used to reduce inequality between the disabled and non-disabled. It has also been seen that sport changes the person with disability in an equally profound way, by empowering persons with disabilities to realize their full potential and advocate for changes in society.

Strategic plans have been made for the involvement of disabled persons in sport, but major setbacks have interrupted the implementation of these plans, such as discrimination, negative attitude, poor physical education, lack of knowledge and information, lack of adaptable facilities and programmes, untrained staff and inadequate sponsorship and coaching.

These have been the major setbacks in involving persons with disabilities in sport and these factors cannot be overruled, due to the fact that it creates a mental and psychological effect on the disabled. It also creates a stigma around people with disabilities, which in turn causes the disabled person to see themself as less worthy. 

Overcoming challenges

In overcoming these challenges, various support systems need to be put in place to help keep them mentally, physically, emotionally, and psychologically fit, thereby boosting their self-esteem. Sport has been a tool used to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with disability; it can transform community attitudes about persons with disabilities by developing and improving their skills.

Creation of disability-friendly sports teams and clubs, where they feel comfortable to express themselves, develop social skills and develop healthy relationships can go a long way in improving participation of persons with disabilities. Also, provision of various opportunities and programs such as physical exercise, through recreational and competitive sport, physical education curriculum, leisure, sporting games should be included in their activities.

Sport for development organizations have indeed helped and encouraged the participation of disabled persons in sport, with the number of programmes and funding available, but there is still room for improvement. Participation in sports can be greatly improved with the involvement of other non-sports organizations.

Organization can be encouraged to include people with disabilities in their programs by adequately providing funds and grants, co-coordinating sport partnership, initiating and facilitating research concerning competitive or recreational sport, providing adaptable facilities, formulating and implementing a high performance strategy for disabled sports, creating favorable sport policies.

Awareness raising, effective sport programmes, and coach training can also support sport organizations in including people with disabilities in sports participation.

Anna Mambula is the Programme Manager at FAME Foundation and a passionate gender rights advocate based in Abuja, Nigeria. She believes that empowering the female gender regardless of physical or societal limitations is needed for the world we envision.


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Anna Mambula


Monday, November 23, 2020 - 17:53