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Many persons with Mobility Impairments or Physical Disabilities can still take part in physical activities such as Sports and Hobbies. There are a wide variety of different types of sports and activities, some are based on existing able bodied sports which have been modified to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, such as Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Tennis, these are sometimes referred to as Adapted Sports. Not all sports and activities for persons with disabilities are adapted, several sports still remain exactly the same and some have been specifically created for persons with disabilities and have no equivalent in "able-bodied sports", an example of this is Boccia.
Playing sports and taking part in physical activities have become popular and provide a wide variety of benefits for both persons with disabilities who take part in these activities, as well as other members of the community. Many persons with disabilities benefit from the social and physical activity that most sports and activities offer, while those watching from the sidelines can be inspired by the achievements to achieve more and help society to learn about disability and to remove some of the stigma associated with a person having a disability.
Organized sport for persons with physical disabilities existed as early as 1911, when the "Cripples Olympiad" was held in the US.A. Later, events often developed out of rehabilitation programs and following the Second World War, in response to the 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.
Sports men and women with impairments in South Africa have generally been very successful and have often outperformed their able bodied teams by some distance in the Paralympic vs Olympic Games. The South African Paralympic team has consistently finished better on the medal table at the Summer Paralympic Games since the country was re-admitted. Notable South African athletes with disabilities prior to the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics include: Natalie du Toit – swimming; Ernst van Dyk – wheelchair racing and hand cycling and Kgothatso Montjane – wheelchair tennis.
The recent 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and took place from the 24th of August to the 5th of September 2021. The team of 34 athletes competing in seven sports was the smallest delegation since the 1992 Summer Paralympics. The South African Para Athletes achieved 7 medals compared to the 4 medals achieved by the Olympics team. The 7 medals include four gold, one silver and two bronze medals, three African and three World records were also set.
- Anrune Weyers
- Ntando Mahlangu
- Nicolas Pieter du Preez
- Louzanne Coetzee
- Sheryl James
Many sports persons with disabilities are now earning a living from their sport with some South Africans in the past, such as Natalie du Toit and Oscar Pistorius competing as equals against able bodied athletes at various events including the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games.
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 9 sports, supervising and coordinating World Championships and other competitions. It is recognized as the leading organization globally, with a vision to enable Para athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world.’ 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.
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 Dance Sport. This requires the IPC to supervise and coordinate the World Championships and other competitions for each of the nine sports it regulates.
At the national level, there are various organizations that take responsibility for Paralympic sport, including:
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 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.
Thanks to its classification system, athletes with similar disabilities are able to compete together in competition, 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 impairments:
- 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).
There are a wide variety of different levels of activities and sports, including both Paralympic and non-Paralympic sports and those that are offered at provincial and club level, as well as those supplied by various organisations.
Provincial Sports Associations
There are also various Provincial Sports Associations that govern a variety sports in particular provinces 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 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."
There are a wide variety of Sports Clubs and Organisations which are also available in South Africa, which supports sports persons with disabilities. Some Orgaisations such as The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) offers financial support to it's members, while some Clubs and Organisations such as The Differently Abled Cricket Club and Handicapped Scuba Crew 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. These Clubs and Organisations that can assist persons with disabilities include:
The Differently Abled Cricket Club: The Differently Abled Cricket Club is an open cricket club for differently abled cricket players, which includes the Blind, Deaf, Intellectually Impaired (SID and MID) and Physically Disabled. "We are currently 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!"
In South Africa organisations such as the Handicapped Scuba Crew promote and offer Scuba Diving for persons with disabilities, as both an activity and a form of therapy, thus improving the lives of many persons with disabilities throughout South Africa and promoting Scuba Diving for persons with disabilities.
Handicapped Scuba Crew: Handicapped Scuba Crew is a Nonprofit Organization (Registration No: NPO 240/281) which is based in Pretoria and has a mission to break down barriers with “Scubility” – “We Use SCUBA as a tool for rehabilitation back into normal society and to make sure that persons with disabilities are given the same opportunities to receive excellent quality training, certification and dive adventures, as able-bodied divers do. We enhance the lives of all persons with disabilities and their families through the sport of SCUBA Diving. - We raise funds for all of these activities.”
In 2019 the Handicapped Scuba Crew completed more than 400 Sea Dives and more than 1000 Pool Sessions and more than 40 x courses.
Handicapped Scuba Crew have worked with persons with various disabilities/conditions, including persons with mobility impairments or conditions. Persons who have dived with us include Persons with Spinal Cord Injuries - paraplegics and quadriplegics; Persons with Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis; Amputees and persons with Spina Bifida; Hemiplegics and Persons with Muscular Dystrophy; Persons who have had a Stroke and Persons with Cancer; persons who are Deaf; Autistic; Blind, or have Down Syndrome; PTSD and TBI.
Adaptive techniques enable our organization to live our ethos of everyone is equal, giving people as above an equal opportunity to experience all parts of the dives, including sitting on the pontoon if viable! The benefits of Scuba Diving are vast and include both mental and physical benefits. New medical studies confirm the therapeutic benefits of Scuba Diving and the Handicapped Scuba Crew have been recognised for the work that they are doing and the benefits of Scuba Diving for persons with disabilities.
If you are interested in Scuba Diving, or would like to find out more about the Handicapped Scuba Crew or various events planned, please feel free to contact: Dean on: 083 6789 849 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Richard on: 082 579 3732 or via email: email@example.com or Sue on: 064 545 1671 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit the Handicapped Scuba Crew: Facebook Page or click on the Link below to find out more about Scuba Diving for persons with disabilities and the Handicapped Scuba Crew.
Sports Equipment & Adaptive Clothing
The barriers to being active are starting to come down and Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation has become a big business, there are a wide variety of different types of equipment and adaptive clothing that can help you with rehabilitation and help you enjoy Sports and Exercise again. This Adaptive Clothing, Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation equipment is available in South Africa and can be purchased from companies such as Prima Care, Sitwell Technologies, Steenkamp Orthotics and Prosthetics Inc., Care by Sr. Sue (CBSS) Catheter Pants, and Simplify Wheelchair Seating , this include products such as Sports Wheelchairs, ParaGolfers, Hand Cycles, Sports Prosthesis as well as Rehabilitation and Exercise Equipment such as Standing Frames, Stationary Hand Bikes, Wrist Weights, Stretch Ropes, etc.
Many persons with disabilities also require the assistance of various types of Adaptive Clothing to assist these athletes to compete in these sports and remain comfortable and to retain their dignity. These types of "Adaptive Clothing" mentioned above include Active Hands - Hand Braces; Wheelchair and Hand Cycling Gloves; Adaptive Rain Gear; Elastic Shoelaces and CBS Catheter Pants which assist athletes who use catheters to remain comfortable while competing and to retain their dignity if they are wearing shorts or a swimming costume. CBS Catheter Pants have been researched and developed by Sr. Sue Ann Mahlwele, who is a South African ICU Trained Registered Nurse.
Care by Sr. Sue (CBSS) Catheter Pants
Care by Sr. Sue (CBSS) Catheter Pants - the solution to provide comfort and dignity to catheter users. CBSS Catheter Pants have been researched and developed by Sr. Sue Ann Mahlwele, South African ICU Trained Registered Nurse who is passionate about patient care and who has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare, both in the private and public sector.
Through her close interaction with her patients/clients, she has been able to understand their different healthcare needs and requirements. Sr. Sue believes strongly that her CBSS Catheter Pants need to embody her passion of “care” and to include a “personal touch” to align with the ethos and quintessence of her “patient specific” practice and services.
After a client conveyed to her their frustration at having a catheter bag hanging down their leg and the added anxiety experienced from the stares of people, this led Sr. Sue to seek a solution to provide comfort and dignity to catheter users. As she researched more on catheter care, she came across the idea of pants for catheter patients, and CBSS Catheter Pants was birthed. This catheter friendly clothing line currently has two terrific products in the range – Lightweight (210gsm) and Premium (320gsm).
Sr. Sue continues to provide patient care at her private practice, at Bracken Wellness Centre, 9 De Waal Street, Brackendowns as well as at various medical facilities and patient’s homes.
Patient Care services that are provided by Sr. Sue include intravenous therapy, patient coordination, wound dressing, lung function, and more. Care by Sister Sue also offers the ideal Disinfectant Fogging Solution for you. Coming to your premises, taking all the hard work out of your attempting to effectively fog on your own, leaving you with clean, fresh air and peace of mind.
|Please feel free to contact Care by Sister Sue for more information on:
cell 073 545 3236
You can also visit their website at: www.carebysistersue.co.za.
Please also view their YouTube video on the right, to find out more about the CBSS Catheter Pants or click on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4ODOkDoMzM
Please Contact Us if you have any questions.
You can also visit our "Sports, Exercise & Rehabilitation Equipment" to find out more information about the equipment mentioned above, or visit our "Accessories - Adaptive Clothing" Page to find out more about the other Accessories that are available.
Please read the information below to find out more about some of the sports that are available to persons with Mobility Impairments in South Africa.
Sports Appropriate For My Disability
Whatever your age, disability, experience level, or gender, there should be some type of sport that is available for you to enjoy in South Africa. Whether you prefer team or individual sports, Winter or Summer sports, high action or something a bit slower, if you've got the enthusiasm and the drive, you should be able to find something in this section that will suit you. The key is to focus on the things that you can do, rather than those that you cannot. Below are a list of sports and activities that are available to persons with Mobility Impairments in South Africa, some of these sports are available at social, club and Provincial level. To view more information about these Sports and activities, view the menu on the left, or click on the links below:
Athletics & Swimming
South Africa has and is regularly represented in the Paralympic Games in both Athletics and Swimming, both these sports have a variety of disciplines and 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 and quadriplegics), amputees, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, orthopaedic injuries, arthritis, muscular dystrophy and other disability groups to compete together. Able-bodied people can only compete at a recreational level.
Both Athletics and Swimming in South African is governed by SASCOC " South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee." They not only help look after the 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. These sports are however also available to all who wish to participate. Please view the menu on the left, or click on the links below to view more information about "Athletics & Swimming".
Basketball and 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.
Both Scuba Diving and Cricket are activities/sports which can be enjoyed by many persons with Mobility Impairments, including persons who use wheelchairs despite their impairment. Both Scuba Diving and Cricket have been adapted slightly to make them available to most persons with disabilities in various countries around the world and in South Africa, through clubs and organisations such as the Handicapped Scuba Crew, which is a Nonprofit Organization and The Differently Abled Cricket Club. These sports/activities both offer a wide variety of benefits for persons with impairments but are not currently part of the Paralympics. Please click on the link below to find out more about Scuba Diving and Cricket and the clubs and organisations that can assist you and how they can benefit you through these activities and other services that they provide, or read the page below to find out more about other sports and activities in South Africa.
Tennis & Table Tennis
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 not listed on this page.
If you would like to find a Sports Organization or Sports Club that is available near you, visit our Sports Search Facility Page: http://disabilityinfosa.co.za/search-for-info/sports-clubs-organizations/ or visit our Assistive Devices - Sports, Exercise & Rehabilitation Equipment Page to find equipment that can assist you to participate in various sports.