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A Reflection on the Investment and Participation in Disability Sport

IPC workshop

A Reflection on the Investment and Participation in Disability Sport

Sport is seen as a key tool for providing disabled people with opportunities which may not otherwise exist. But why is this, what are the complexities involved, and how are different sports using this tool to empower the disabled?

A recent, week-long workshop involving 42 disabled athletes, costing USD 50,000 is a reminder of the kind of investment now being made in disability sport. It has been found that sport can play an extremely important role in the health and social mobility of those with disabilities and sporting organisations are well placed to positively affect this community.

The visibility of these programmes is paramount to the empowerment of those with disabilities who's participation and achievements in sport may have previously been neglected. Recent posts on the Platform suggest that the field of sport and development is continually providing key opportunities for those with disabilities despite the barriers which continue to exist.

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)

The ITTF played a key role in the recent IPC workshop with one of the main sports played by the participants being para table tennis. This is a version of 'able-bodied' table tennis which allows those with a disability to play the game in a similar way whilst still in a wheelchair or with limited mobility and/or coordination. Through para table tennis the participants experienced how, with inclusive coaching, adapted physical activity (APA) can allow those with disabilities to participate in sport in a similar way to those without disabilities. Thus, the 'gap' between the two groups is reduced, which in turn can reduce the marginalisation of this group.

Cambodian National Volleyball League for Disabled (CNVLD)
This marginalisation is partly due to the historical stigma attached to those with disabilities as being inferior. However participants who compete in the CVNLD and the 2011 WOVD Volleyball World Cup, which is to be held in Cambodia this year, will have a very different experience to those in other communities and countries. Those who play in the CVNLD are seen as national heroes and receive an extremely high level of respect due to participating in sport despite their injuries and physical disabilities. The CVNLD continues to grow as more and more people use sport to show that they can overcome obstacles and limitations.

Haitian Amputee Soccer Team

However, disability sport does not just empower those who are mentally or physically disabled. When 17 survivors of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti played a match against the national amputee soccer team the multi-dimensional issues surrounding some people who have disabilities was highlighted. This game was not just an opportunity for those who lost limbs because of the earthquake to illustrate their physical strength. Still a year after the earthquake hit, many have limited possessions and opportunities and this match gave them an opportunity to escape what they have been left with, if only for one match.

Amputee African Cup of Nations

For the disabled community to truly benefit from the role sport can have on their lives their must be sustainability or a legacy factor to these programmes (as seen with the IPC workshop). Regular workshops and competitions like the Amputee African Cup of Nations not only help increase the particiption in disability sport but also keep questions about the role of sport and the rights of the global population at the fore-front of discussion. The Amputee Football Federation of Africa (AFFA) have said that they will only be satisfied by the tournament this year if the profile of amputee football is lifted in Africa, another sign of the commitments and criteria for success being applied to disability sport.

Where next?
The platform offers a wide range of information and special insights in to disability sport. Find out about its background, current initiatives and future directions through our 'Learn More' section.

Also the Platform is always looking to promote new projects and organisations in disability sport and those from all sides of the sport for development field. Sign up as a Team Player, and then share your activities and organisation profile with the online community.

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Tom Browne


Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 23:00

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