Malawi Paralympics Committee (MPC) has launched ‘sport for people with disability week’ which will run from this Saturday to October 1.
Briefing journalists at Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) premises in Blantyre yesterday, MPC president James Chiutsi said the week aims at creating awareness about the importance of engaging people with disabilities in sporting activities.
The week is also expected to be commemorated in nine other countries affiliated to African Union Region Five Sports Council, namely Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Angola and Namibia.
“Sport is important to human beings, but it is particularly more significant to disabled persons as success gives them self-confidence and social awareness to stand at par with able-bodied colleagues,” he said.
“It also has a rehabilitative influence, not only on the physical body, but the mind as well. Moreover, sport teaches independence while encouraging team work. Therefore, we would like to encourage guardians to engage disabled individuals in sports.”
According to MPC vice-treasurer Joseph Galanje, who is also chairperson for MPC affiliate Para Athletics Committee, government has pumped in K2.1 million and MPC is pleading with the corporate world to support them in cash or kind.
One of the athletes with disability, 18-year-old Gladys Chiwinja, who finished fourth in 100 metres at the Region V1 Games in Zimbabwe in 2014, said parents should allow their disabled children in sports and pleaded with the public not to discourage or frustrate them.
The opening ceremony of the event will have a wheelchair basketball game at the Polytechnic basketball court in Blantyre on Saturday morning before holding athletics competition at Kamuzu Institute for Sports (KIS) in Lilongwe the next day and Mzuzu Stadium on September 30. The closing function will be conducted at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on October 1.
There will also be some auxiliary events that will include bawo, bottle-race, sack-race and tug-of-war games at Magomero in Chiradzulu on September 26, Lilongwe on September 27 and St John of God in Mzuzu on September 28.
Globally, there are over one billion people living with disabilities and 80 percent of them people live in developing countries. African Disability Right Year Book of 2008 registered that Malawi had 498 122 people with disabilities, representing five percent of country’s population at the time. n