Friday Mar 04 2022
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Inclusive Para Sports 2022: A step towards equal opportunities

KARACHI: Despite being blind, Asad Raza — an athlete from Gujranwala — had always been determined to do something exceptional in life. And through sheer hard work and commitment, he not only became the first blind person to win a black belt in Judo from Pakistan but also became a skilled footballer. 

"We can achieve everything; we just need others to support us,” said 
Raza, who recently participated in the Inclusive Para Sports 2022 event, hosted by the University of Karachi. 

The event, held under the umbrella of the Binae Welfare Association,  brought together people with disabilities from all across Pakistan and took place at the Physical Education Department of the university.

The four-day event kick-started on February 28 and ended on March 3, and saw the participation of athletes in different sports, including football, athletics, archery and judo.

Teams from Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) took part in the event. 

Talking about the para-sports event, Raza appreciated the initiative and reiterated that people with disabilities are no less than others. Motivating others to never lose hope and keep striving, he said that “people with blindness are moving forward and are becoming successful, just like others.”

'Lack of awareness'

Talking about the event, the coach of the blind football team Asim Aslam said that the athletes have been practising for the matches for the past two years, adding that they are playing for this platform for the first time.

He further said that there is a “lack of awareness” among others regarding the struggles visually-impaired and blind people face.

“However, with the help of this initiative, they get support from people around them that helps them move forward,” he added.

'No support from government'

When being asked about the motivation behind the initiative, CEO Binae Welfare Association Salman Elahi said that “he wants visually-impaired and blind people to know that this disability cannot stop them from doing what they like.”

Giving an overview of the Binae Welfare Association, the CEO said that it is running many projects, including the Para Sports project. 

"The Association provides a platform for these kids to play sports nationally and internationally," he said.

Talking about the sports event, Elahi said that this project will finalise a football, archery, and judo team for international matches.

One of the projects, Elahi said, is related to skills development.

"The skills imparted to the participants include computer training, call-centre training, web-developing, cooking classes, and stitching classes for the girls.

Urging the public and private sectors to introduce more such initiatives, Elahi said that the government should support people with disabilities.

“Our blind athlete, who won silver medal internationally, didn’t get any support from the government or coverage from any media outlet,” he said.

He said that the government should provide resources like “braille menu and braille Quran,” to the visually-impaired people to make their lives easier and normal like others.

'Limited resources'

The director of the sports at the event, Talish Hussain Toor, said that despite the availability of limited resources, athletes perform very well. 

He also stressed the government to support similar initiatives to encourage people with disabilities to do meaningful things in life. 

Talking about such events, Toor said that his team has been arranging them since 2016. 

"However, they are no proper football grounds, fixed running tracks, or other venues with accommodations for the players to practice," he said.