Sport for Mobility Impaired
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Contents: To jump to the topic you would like, click on the links below
- International Paralympic Committee
- The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)
- South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled (SASAPD)
- Types of Sport
- Sports Appropriate For My Disability
Persons with Mobility Impairment or Physical Disabilities can still take part in physical activities like Sport. In-fact Mobility Impaired sports or "Disabled Sports" in South Africa are both very popular & successful. Sportsman with impairments in South Africa have in-fact outperformed their able bodied teams by some distance in the Paralympic Games compared to the Olympic Games.
The South African Paralympic team has consistently finished near the top of the medal table at every Summer Paralympic Games since the country was re-admitted. At their readmission in the 1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona the team was ranked 27th by medal tally, in 2008 they reached sixth place, the team's best performance to date.
Notable South African athletes with disabilities include:
- Natalie du Toit – swimming
- Ernst van Dyk – wheelchair racing and hand cycling (current record holder of ten wins at the Boston Marathon)
- Kgothatso Montjane – wheelchair tennis
Whatever your age, disability, experience level, or gender, there's a place for you in Mobility Impaired sports. Whether you prefer team or individual sports, Winter or Summer sports, high action or something a bit slower, if you've got the enthusiasm & the drive, you can find something in this section that will suit you. Focus on the things that you can do, rather than those you cannot.
Organized sport for persons with physical disabilities existed as early as 1911, when the "Cripples Olympiad" was held in the U.S.A. Later, events often developed out of rehabilitation programs. Following the Second World War, in response to the needs of large numbers of injured ex-service members and civilians, sport was introduced as a key part of rehabilitation. Sport for rehabilitation grew into recreational sport and then into competitive sport.
Adapted sports help society learn about disability and also can also help remove some of the stigma associated with having a disability. There are a wide range of sports which have been adapted to be played by persons with various disabilities, as well as several sports that are unique to disabled athletes.
Disabled sports have improved remarkably since 1911, with many sports persons earning a living from their sport & some South Africans such as Natalie du Toit and Oscar Pistorius competing as equals against able bodied athletes at various events including the Olympic Games & Commonwealth Games.
The International Paralympic Committee is recognized as the leading organization Globally, with direct governance over nine sports and responsibility over the Paralympic Games and other multi-sport and multi-disability events. Other notable international organizations, include the: International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS), the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (INAS) and the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA), which govern some sports that are specific to certain disability groups.
At the national level, there are a wide range of organizations that take responsibility for Paralympic sport, including the National Paralympic Committees, which are members of the IPC, and many others.
International Paralympic Committee
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. Its purpose is to organise the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games and act as the International Federation for ten sports, supervising and coordinating World Championships and other competitions.
The vision of the IPC, run by 200 members, is ‘To enable Para athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world.’
- Enable - Creating conditions for athlete empowerment
- Para athletes - The primary focus, from initiation to elite level
- Achieve - Sporting excellence is the goal of a sport centred organisation
- Inspire and excite - Touch the heart of all people for a more equitable society
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) were founded on the 22nd of September 1989 as a non-profit organisation and are based in Bonn, Germany with aims to develop sports opportunities for all people with an impairments from the beginner to elite level.
The nine sports that the International Paralympic Committee has direct governance over include: Paralympic athletics, Paralympic swimming, Paralympic shooting, Paralympic powerlifting, Para-alpine skiing, Paralympic biathlon, Paralympic cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and Wheelchair DanceSport. This requires the IPC to supervise and coordinate the World Championships and other competitions for each of the nine sports it regulates.
Thanks to its classification system, athletes with similar disabilities compete together. Athletes who participate in Paralympic sports are grouped into ten major categories, based on their type of disability.
Physical Impairment - There are eight different types of physical impairment:
- Impaired muscle power - With impairments in this category, the force generated by muscles, such as the muscles of one limb, one side of the body or the lower half of the body is reduced, e.g. due to spinal-cord injury, spina bifida or polio.
- Impaired passive range of movement - Range of movement in one or more joints is reduced in a systematic way. Acute conditions such as arthritis are not included.
- Loss of limb or limb deficiency - A total or partial absence of bones or joints from partial or total loss due to illness, trauma, or congenital limb deficiency (e.g. dysmelia).
- Leg-length difference - Significant bone shortening occurs in one leg due to congenital deficiency or trauma.
- Short stature - Standing height is reduced due to shortened legs, arms and trunk, which are due to a musculoskeletal deficit of bone or cartilage structures.
- Hypertonia - Hypertonia is marked by an abnormal increase in muscle tension and reduced ability of a muscle to stretch. Hypertonia may result from injury, disease, or conditions which involve damage to the central nervous system (e.g. cerebral palsy).
- Ataxia - Ataxia is an impairment that consists of a lack of coordination of muscle movements (e.g. cerebral palsy, Friedreich’s ataxia).
- Athetosis - Athetosis is generally characterized by unbalanced, involuntary movements and a difficulty maintaining a symmetrical posture (e.g. cerebral palsy, choreoathetosis).
At the national level, there are a wide range of organizations that take responsibility for Paralympic sport, including National Paralympic Committees, which are members of the IPC, and many others.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and National Paralympic Committee (NPC) for South Africa, and are the responsible body for South Africa at the Commonwealth Games. SASCOC is also responsible for high-performance sport in the country and coordinates the relationship with various international sports federations. They not only help look after all our various National Federations who are affiliated to them, but are also responsible for awarding National Protea Colours to athletes who have met the criteria to represent South Africa in different sporting codes, including:
Athletics, Swimming /Aquatics, Waterpolo, Archery, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Football, Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Karate, Modern Pentathlon, Netball, Rowing, Rugby 7s, Sailing, Shooting, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting and Wrestling. Not all of these sports are however available for all persons with Mobility Impairments.
South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled (SASAPD)
The South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled ( SASAPD) was established in 1962 and focuses on the development and promotion of the sporting codes offered at Paralympic level for athletes with Physical Disabilities, Visual Impairments and blindness.
They offer pathways for qualification towards Paralympic Games across a variety of sports, through their affiliations with international bodies such as: IBSA, IWAS, CPISRA and The Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled. They also work and are an affiliate member of SASCOC as well as being associated members of a number of other national sporting federations. SASAPD promote and a number of sports including: Para Athletics, Boccia, CP Football, Para Cycling, Goalball, Judo for the blind, Para Powerlifting and Para Swimming.
In order to ensure that competition in sport is fair and equal, a classification process is put in place which provides a structure for fair competition. It is important to note that the competitive structure provided by Classification systems is not only important for elite sport but also is essential for promoting grassroots participation in Para-sports by people with an impairment.
Provincial Sports Associations
There are also many Provincial Sports Associations that govern a variety sports in a particular province in South Africa, such as:
The Free State Sport Association for the Physically Disabled and Visually Impaired: have a sound understanding and passion to build character through sport. "Our executive has years of experience working with the disabled in sport and other social environments. We have an in-depth understanding of our sport codes and the special classification criteria that is associated with each code."
"At the FSSAPD we are all volunteers. We serve the association with dedication and commitment to honor our most valued assets, our Athletes. We cater for the following sporting codes: Athletics – Track and Field, Boccia, CP Soccer, Para Cycling, Goal Ball, Swimming. Each of these codes is equally important to us but as with everything in life we are also limited with resources. With funding we will be able to support and grow all our sporting codes to the best in the country."
Sports Clubs are also available, which offer either a single or a variety of sports in a particular province or city in South Africa, these clubs may include "Disabled" and Abled Body athletes or just "Disabled" athletes. There are a variety of these clubs in South Africa, including:
The Differently Abled Cricket Club: which is an open cricket club for the differently abled cricket players, which includes the Blind, Deaf, Intellectually Impaired (SID and MID) and Physically Disabled. We are the only club of this kind in South Africa and we would like to make it our goal in getting other regions to follow suit!
Some "disabled sports" are based on existing able bodied sports, modified to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, they are sometimes referred to as adapted sports. Not all disabled sports are adapted, several sports have been specifically created for persons with a disabilities & have no equivalent in able-bodied sports.
Persons with disabilities benefit from physical activity, and the barriers to being active are starting to come down. A wide variety of equipment is available and activities have been adapted so people of all abilities can participate.
Sports Appropriate For My Disability
Below are a list of a few sports that are available to persons with Mobility Impairments in South Africa, some of these sports are available at social, club & Provincial level, while some are also available at international level and at the Paralympics, where the classification process is used. To view more information about these Sports and others, view the menu on the left, or click on the links below:
Athletics & Swimming
South Africa has & is regularly represented in the Paralympic Games in both Athletics & Swimming. Both sports have a wide variety of disciplines, & a large spectrum of mobility impairments which can participate in these sports.Thanks to its classification system, athletes with similar disabilities compete together. This means that it's appropriate for people with spinal cord injuries (paraplegic & quadriplegic), amputees, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, orthopaedic injuries, arthritis, muscular dystrophy & other disability to compete together. Able-bodied people can only compete at a recreational level.
Both Athletics & Swimming in South African is governed by SASCOC " South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee." They not only help look after all our various National Federations who are affiliated to them, but are responsible for the awarding for National Protea Colours to athletes who have met the criteria to represent South Africa in these different sporting codes, however these sports are available to all who wish to participate.
Basketball & Quad Rugby are both sports which are played by individuals in teams in manual Wheelchairs, especially designed for that sport. Both Basketball & Quad Rugby are played with round netballs, on courts, which are especially mapped out to the specific sizes & dimensions that the sport requires. These sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at the Paralympic Games, where the classification process is used.
Boccia & Dance Sport
Both Boccia & Dance Sport can be enjoyed on a recreational and/or competitive basis. Competitions are organized locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. They can both be enjoyed despite an individual having a serious Mobility Impairment & both sports are also competed in at the Paralympics Games.
Martial Arts & Fencing
Both Fencing & Martial Arts in the form of Judo are competed in at the Paralympic Games, where the classification process is used. Judo though is only available for the Blind. Martial Arts as a whole is however available to most individuals with Mobility Impairments in South Africa. Both sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level. Individuals in wheelchairs can take part in both Fencing & Martial Arts from a wheelchair, however others can compete. These sports are not only a source of fun, but great exercise, a challenge, teachers discipline, & is a great way to meet new people.
Golf & Bowls
Both Disabled Golf & Bowls are available to most individuals with Mobility Impairments in South Africa, including those in wheelchairs. The classification process is used to guarantee that no matter your disability, everyone can compete on an even footing. Both sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level.
Sailing & Surfing
Disabled Sailing & Surfing are both water sports that that have been adapted from their original sports & are open to athletes with a wide variety of types & degrees of disabilities. Athletes receive classifications, so that they can be grouped for competition purposes according to their impairment. Both sports are enjoyed at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level. Both these sports can be participated in on equal terms.
Scuba Diving & Cricket are activities or sports that are beneficial and can be enjoyed by persons with Mobility Impairments, including persons who use wheelchairs. Both sports have been adapted and are available around the world and in clubs in South Africa, but are not currently part of the Paralympics.
Tennis & Table Tennis are both sports that have been adapted from their original sports. Both sports can be played by people with nearly every disability & allows both sportsman who use wheelchairs & those who don't, to participate. Athletes receive classifications, so that they can be grouped for competition purposes according to their impairment. Both sports are played at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level.
Wheelchair Racing & Cycling are both track or road events in athletics. They are both open to athletes with a variety of types & degrees of disabilities. For those would be cyclists, whose mobility impairment prevents them from using their legs, handcycling is available. Athletes are classified in accordance with the nature & severity of their disability or combinations of disabilities. Competitors compete in specialized wheelchairs/handcycles. Both sports are competed in at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level.
Please send us information on any other sport.
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