MASVINGO-There is an outcry from people with disabilities for the lack of friendly sporting facilities in the country to enable them to participate in recreation activities.
In a recent interview with The Mirror, Institute for Community Development in Zimbabwe (ICoDZ), disability inclusion officer, Yemurai Ngoma who is based in Masvingo City said there is need for authorities at all levels to provide opportunities to marginalised communities especially sporting facilities and equipment.
Ngoma said people with disabilities are also very talented in sport, but that may go waste because they are not exposed through the right platforms like participating in parasports like in other countries.
“We call upon the responsible authorities to seriously consider our plight by making sure that there are proper facilities and equipment for people with disabilities so that we are able to take part in sport at all levels.
“At school level the situation is better for example in Masvingo there is Capota where the pupils participate in games but post school, there is nothing. There is need to have these facilities spread throughout the Province so that we all get an opportunity to compete.
“The equipment should not only be available but affordable as well so that they do not become white elephants. Women are very good at taking up such issues and it is our hope that those in leadership positions will assist us to realise this dream,” said Ngoma.
She also suggested that there should be national leagues for sporting disciplines for people with disabilities.
People with disabilities can participate in such games like wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball, para volleyball, para badminton, athletics.
The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) admitted that there are no adequate facilities, equipment and specialist technical officials for parasports in a statement to The Mirror.
The SRC also bemoaned lack of coverage in the mainstream media for parasports to eliminate stigmatisation and encourage business to sponsor parasports.
“There is Lack of standard training facilities and equipment (e.g braille) for people with disabilities, limited specialist technical officials for Paralympic sport codes, limited media coverage for Paralympic sport and recreation programmes, lack of sponsorship for Paralympic sport and recreation activities.
“There is also stigmatisation of persons with a disability as they undertake sport, discrimination of persons with a disability in mainstream sport and recreation structures and physical and emotional abuses especially to athletes by coaches and sport administrators,” said SRC spokesperson, Eltah Nengomasha.
However, the SRC is not folding its arms and do nothing as they have proposed a number of interventions to rescue the situation, said Nengomasha.
“We have developed standards for referencing in the refurbishment and construction of sport and recreation facilities.
“We are also in the process of developing a Safe Inclusive Policy for use by all sport and recreation delivery agents and partners. Zimbabwe National Paralympic Committee will then be mandated to develop such a policy for People with a Disability.
“The Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation is in the process of finalizing the sport and recreation integrity bills which are aimed at curbing all unsafe sport and recreation practices.
“SRC undertakes periodic awareness campaigns educating communities on the need to embrace people with a disability in mainstream and community programmes.
“The SRC in liaison with Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation regularly lobby to Government for financial grants targeted at people with a disability. Examples include the provision of financial grants towards hosting of the Zimbabwe National Paralympic Games for the past 12 editions, support for para-athletes to compete at the Paralympic qualifiers eg Dubai Grand Prix in 2O21,” she added.
Provincial Schools Inspector, Physical Education and Culture, Fredrick Matavikwa also weighed in and said they are in the process of integrating sport so that those with disabilities and mainstream sports are done under one roof.
“Facilities are not enough but they are there for most school going pupils and we are also in the process of having sports being done together to reduce discrimination and allow integration of all the kids,” said Matavikwa.