The Author: Salman Khalid is a visually impaired college lecturer. Having done his M.Phil. in English literature has represented Pakistan in the International conferences conducted by United Nation and was certified by UN in the matters concerning disabilities. A knowledgeable sports enthusiast, he is a valuable member of Allsportspk editorial team.
The role of sports and games, over the years, has always been vital as it has the capacity to sharpen the mental and physical well being of the individuals who participate in any healthy activity. Same goes for the people who are having some kind of physical limitation as they have an equal right to all the recreational opportunities in the society. Although, it is quite unfortunate that the physically challenged individuals do not generally find too many chances to participate in sports activities because of multiple factors. The primary reason being lack of awareness on the part of society coupled with the absence of a required facilities for PWDs-People With Disability.
Person with disabilities already have to undergo many societal barriers and discrimination regarding various things in life as a result of the stigma attached to disability which often creates psychological mayhem for most of them. The active participation of PWDs in various sports, therefore, could lift their spirit a great deal and convert their psychological degradation into a much needed self-assurance and help them become a productive member of the society. Not only this, sports can assist big time in abolishing the stigma and negative attitude associated with disability by highlighting the talent and capability of the individuals having some kind of physical deficiency. Through sports and specially conducted indoor games, the people with impairment may have a complete sense of equality and shall have their morale quite elevated.
Luckily enough, things have progressed nicely in this regard over the last couple of decades or so, as PWDs, all over the world can be seen participating in various national and international sports competitions. Even in a developing country like Pakistan, there are examples of athletes with disabilities participating in various games, including at international level with gold medal performances.
Blind cricket is one major sport where the visually impaired cricketers have earned great laurels for Pakistan. These blind cricketers compete at national and international level and have won worldcup twice to go with many by-lateral series. However, there are limitted number of sports/ game meant for PWDs in countries like Pakistan just because of the unavailability of the required resources. There are hardly any events based on indoor games in Pakistan conducted for individual with special needs as the main focus remains on the mainstream sporting activities. There are surely a variety of different games which can be managed by PWDs as we observe during special Olympics where the athletes with disabilities stun the world with their capabilities.
Some of the commonly available sports at international level for people with disabilities are cricket, table tennis, wheelchair tennis, chess, judo, special football for the athlete with blindness and cerebral palsy, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and cycling. Even in the game like archery, we have many examples where the players with disability can participate. Only recently, two visually impaired archers from Islamabad have qualified to participate in an international event of archery taking place in Dubai next month.
On the other hand, the women with disabilities usually experience double discrimination on the basis of their gender and disability, thus, it is equally important to take suitable measures for their inclusion in the sports as well. According to a survey, it has been discovered that 93 percent of the women with disabilities are unable to take part in sport related activities which maximises their social segregation. By providing these women with disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports, we can help them to get rid of the gender stereotypes and negative perceptions associated with them.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, through its article 30, has emphatically emphasised the need to include the PWDs in all recreational activities, mainly the sports. Being a signatory of this United Nation’s convention, Pakistan is bound to ensure the provision of all the rights to PWDs, including the right to sports and games. It is a primary responsibility of the state and its government, specially the local and national sports administrations to make sure that the marginalised segments in the country are also given the substantial space. This will give them a desired sense of inclusion and hugely contribute in their social integration.