IPC Press Release: At the official Opening Ceremony of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Regional IPC Development Camp in Lusaka, Zambia, the Minister of Labour, Sports, Youth and Gender, Fackson Shamenda, said he would support Paralympic Sport in Zambia.In his first official duty since coming into office in recent elections, Shamenda underlined the rights of people with a disability by reading aloud abstracts from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability, which Zambia ratified in February 2010. “The government wants access to sports facilities to be user friendly for all,” he told an audience of athletes, coaches, National Paralympic Committee (NPC) administrators and press.
“All public infrastructure must be accessible to people with a disability. We need to accommodate everybody. “My message to participating countries is that the skills and knowledge from this camp are used to enhance sports for persons with a disability. I’m sure this will change the way disability sport is run in the whole region,” The camp, which is sponsored by the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF) and Charity and Sport, runs from 3-8 October. Its goals include creating a unique atmosphere to give NPCs the opportunity to share knowledge.
Carolin Rickers, IPC Development Manager, who is in Zambia to facilitate the camp, said: “The IPC Regional Training Camp is a tremendous result of our blossoming partnership with NIF, which has been supporting NPCs in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho to develop the Paralympic Movement there. This week is a culmination of that work.
“The IPC Regional Training Camp is a fantastic opportunity to bring athletes, coaches and NPC administrators closer together.”It’s also a chance for countries to exchange best practices and programmes in order to learn from each other. “This week will bring promising athletes closer to their dream of participating in the Paralympic Games. “What I’ve witnessed this week is a huge dedication to the Paralympic Movement and I believe that in the years to come Paralympians from these nations will be a force to be reckoned with.”
In total 23 athletes, 17 coaches and six administrators from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana will spend the week learning from experts in workshops and being trained by NIF coach instructor Nils Helland. “With the right coaching and follow up, some of these athletes have the potential to make it to the top,” Helland said. At the Opening Ceremony, Zambian athlete Annie Simfukwe gave an emotional speech, appealing for more sports equipment and facilities. “We humbly request the Zambian government to link up these countries present to further sports for persons with disabilities.
“I stand here today to make an earnest appeal to you for help in terms of equipment and transport as this has been the biggest challenge to all National Paralympic Committees. There are a lot of persons with disabilities out there who are eager to join the sporting world but lack the facilities. “I hope this camp is part of a new beginning for the Paralympic Movement in Southern Africa and I am excited for what the future holds.”
The Opening Ceremony was closed by a passionate address from Namibia’s Gideon Nasilowski, a London 2012 hopeful. “If we can take this as a step to unify Africa, this is a perfect opportunity. We are standing together as one and there’s nothing that can hold us back. As people with disabilities, we can use sport as a means of success. “We sometimes feel that we are neglected or discriminated against, but we are much further in life than the able-bodied because we stand together. We are one.” With the IPC Foundation intending to carry out similar projects in the future, the IPC hopes to enable NPCs to develop their athletes and for them to inspire their country through their sporting abilities.