Sports offer an opportunity for people with disabilities to connect with the rest of the society.
It was exactly one year ago when the idea of establishing the first ever wheelchair basketball championship was first discussed at an informal gathering of sports coaches with ENGAGE, an NGO promoting empowerment and inclusion of youth living with disabilities. The volunteer coaches had spent a year training teams of youths living with physical disabilities in the Kathmandu Valley. It is incredible how that initial idea was shaped and developed in the next few months.
Something that initially looked bizarre and unpractical was in the end making a whole lot of sense: after all, despite several one-day wheelchair basketball tournaments that have been organised in the past, the nation had never seen a real championship, which could be a milestone in inclusive sports development in Nepal. So it is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of the Turkish Airlines ENGAGE Empowering League.
Some of you may wonder why it is so important to organise such a league in Nepal. There are a few reasons. First, most of us are either involved in some sort of sport or follow them on television. The incredible thing about sports is that they bind people, fostering a sense of belonging.
Now think of this passion for sports translating into a commitment for national development: how transformative would that be? Through initiatives like the league, sports help generate a new understanding about disabilities, an issue often considered only through the prism of personal development and not as an issue of national interest.
After all, how can we think of ourselves as a modern, prosperous nation if those living with disabilities are not only neglected but also not properly accounted for in national statistics?