Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Jennifer Ellison-Brown | Special population and sport

Published:Tuesday | May 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica’s Jermaine Gonzales (left) and Edino Steele (right) run against an athlete from the special population, South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, fitted with a prosthetic legs, during the men’s 400 metres at the Golden Spike meet in Ostrava, Czech Republic, in 2011. Gonzales clocked 45.07 seconds to win ahead of Bahamas’ Chris Brown (not in photograph), 45.17. Pistorius was sixth in 46.19. Steele was eighth in 47.26.

In the past, people with disabilities had little opportunity to take part in sports. Nearly all sports facilities were built for the able-bodied.

People who are disabled or physically challenge had sought to develop alternative sports, as well as to adapt dominant sports to fit their needs and physical characteristics. They have much to offer the world of sports.

Besides the top disabled sports people, there are others who have benefited and can benefit from sports. Participation in sports allows them to stay healthy and to socialise with other people with disabilities as well as able-bodied persons.

However, these special populations do face serious obstacles to participation in sports, which may restrict their activities, and prejudice from other persons or organisations can also be a barrier to their participation.


Inclusion and accessibility 


Concerns and support has been generated by various societal groups across the globe that focuses on the inclusion of person with different disabilities. Their main aim is to ensure quality opportunity for people with disability to take part in sports and recreation at the level of their choice. The objectives are as follows:-

• To raise the profile of people with disabilities in sports

• To make sure plans for sports include the needs of people with disabilities

• To provide opportunities for people with disabilities to take part in sports

• To make sure sports meet the needs of people with disabilities

• To improve access to sports for people with disabilities

• To encourage involvement for people with disabilities in international sports

• To use all resources and seek extra finance

Unfortunately, access for people with disabilities varies across the globe and it is not always the same. Therefore, some persons with disabilities may be faced with following challenges:

• Transportation to sports events and sports facilities

• Facilities that do not cater to the need of competitors and spectators with disabilities (eg. lifts, ramps, special change rooms and restrooms)

• Trained personnel to work with sports people with disabilities.

• Provision at sports centres and clubs for person with disabilities

• Governing bodies not holding events for persons with disabilities within their able-bodied championships.

• Too little opportunities for persons with disabilities to develop their sporting skills

• People with disabilities are not able to afford the cost of taking part in sports

• Awareness of organisations catering to the sporting needs of people with disabilities

• The integration of students with disabilities into P.E. lessons

Although there is still a major problem of accessibility for persons with disabilities, especially within the normal educational institution, many sports have adapted their rules to suit the needs of people with disabilities.

New sports have also been invented football with bells in them for the partially sighted, specific sports such as sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair races, etc.

Disabled persons are now competing alongside able-bodied persons with use of prosthetic legs in athletics and football.

The Special Olympics and Paralympic Games give people of different disabilities a chance to compete at the international level.

These events have been broadcast by the media across the globe and have helped to raise awareness of sports for disabled persons.

Disabled athletes have shown that they can take part in a wide range of sports and do well, just like anyone else.


Next week's lesson: Violence in Sports

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