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Empowering people with disabilities through inclusive participation
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Douglas Masiyazi
In recent years, sports for development programs have emerged as powerful platforms for creating an inclusive environment that enables people with disabilities to actively participate in sports. While there have been notable achievements and success stories of disabled athletes in Zimbabwe, it is important to acknowledge that the representation of people with disabilities in sport is still limited. There is a lack of visibility and recognition of disabled athletes, and their participation in mainstream sporting events and competitions remains relatively low.

Young Achievement Sports for Development (YASD), as a sports for development organization has been playing a pivotal role in advocating for the inclusion of people with disabilities in sports. The organization’s programs provide opportunities and support, which empower individuals with disabilities to feel comfortable participating in sports, regardless of their circumstances. Kudakwashe Mapira , Blessing Makirimira and Douglas Masiyazi who represented Zimbabwe in different editions of  Homeless World Cup serve as inspiring case studies, showcasing the transformative power of sports for development.

The main barrier to the participation of people with disability in sport is the lack of accessible infrastructure and facilities that cater to the specific needs of disabled athletes. This includes accessible changing rooms, ramps, and specialized equipment that enable individuals with disabilities to participate fully. Sports for development programs therefore do not focus on the professional development of the athelete but focus on the social aspects and recognize the inherent potential and abilities of people with disabilities. These programs aim to break down barriers and challenge societal perceptions by creating inclusive spaces that foster equal opportunities for all.

Through the Homeless World Cup, YASD has been advocating for the inclusion of people with disabilities to participate in the global street soccer tournament . The Homeless World Cup provides a platform for individuals who have experienced homelessness, including those with disabilities, to showcase their skills, build confidence, and transform their lives through the power of sport.

Kudakwashe Mapira's a physically disabled footballer with Congenetical Limb Disiorder  exemplifies the transformative impact of sports for development. Kudakwashe participated and captained the 2019 Zimbabwe Homeless World Cup team . Mapira through his participation in YASD's programs is now a global sports ambassador for people with disability . Kudakwashe's involvement in sports allowed him to develop a sense of purpose, build self-confidence, and break free from societal limitations and is now inspiring many peop with his determination and resilience.

Douglas Masiyazi is another young person with a disability and is passionate about football. Douglas is a person with albinism. Douglas faced numerous obstacles in his journey as a footballer player , his skin condition does not allow him to be exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods. This resulted in many coaches not wanting to give him a chance to play football with others. However, through YASD's inclusive programs, he was able to develop his footballing skills and gain confidence in his abilities. Douglas's participation in the Homeless World Cup not only allowed him to showcase his talent but also shattered societal stereotypes about people with albinism. His success on the international stage serves as a testament to the importance of inclusive sports programs in empowering individuals with disabilities.

Sports for development programs recognize the need empower people with disabilities by creating a supportive and inclusive environment that promote participation. These initiatives provide adaptive equipment, specialized coaching, and tailored training programs to address the specific needs of individuals with disabilities. By focusing on their abilities rather than their disabilities, sports for development programs help individuals overcome physical and societal barriers, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment.

Unlike professional sporting programs , sports for development programs promote social inclusion and challenge stigmatization. Through sports, individuals with disabilities are given the opportunity to interact with their peers, build friendships, and develop a support network. The camaraderie and teamwork fostered in these programs create a sense of community and acceptance, enabling individuals to feel comfortable and valued in their sporting pursuits.

In conclusion, sports for development programs have proven to be powerful catalysts for creating an inclusive environment that empowers people with disabilities to participate in sports. YASD's efforts, exemplified through the Homeless World Cup, have played a pivotal role in advocating for the inclusion of people with disabilities in mainstream sports. Through case studies like Kudakwashe Mapira and Douglas Masiyazi, we witness the transformative impact of sports for development on their lives. By embracing an inclusive approach, providing tailored support, and fostering social inclusion, sports for development programs empower individuals with disabilities to overcome challenges, realize their potential, and actively participate in sports, regardless of their circumstances.

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Country
Zimbabwe
Region
All regions
Sport
Football (Soccer)
Sustainable Development Goals
1 - No poverty
3 – Good health and well-being
4 – Quality education
5 - Gender equality
8 - Decent work and economic growth
11 - Sustainable cities and communities
Target Group
All target groups

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