In my work with my charity Kit Us Out – which seeks to level the playing field in para-sport – the issue of sustainable funding is becoming increasingly relevant as disabled athletes from developing countries look for ways to support their careers.
It figures that because money in developing nations is tight, funding for sport and para sport is hard to come by in the first place.
And once funding is secured, unless it is delivered in a sustainable way, it won’t help an athlete’s career long-term.
Kenya is an example of a developing nation that is packed with talented sportspeople, both able-bodied and disabled, but does not necessarily provide the resources to support their careers.
The paralympic team’s recent sit-in at the Ministry of Sport offices and its escalation to State House, the official residence of the President of Kenya, highlighted this.
Despite gaining 42 medals at the recent Africa Paralympic Championships in Morocco in April, the team have not received the allowances they were promised, reports Business Today. The website says that the lack of moral and financial support during the event meant that the para athletes were almost thrown out of their accommodation for lack of funds, until intervention by Kenya’s ambassador to Morocco.
The fact that the team went on to excel themselves by securing so many medals is testament to their determination in the face of challenging circumstances.
This is where the work of the Agitos Foundation, which develops sport activities for people with a disability, comes in. It’s not just about providing opportunities for everyone to practise a sport, but using it as a way to change lives and build an inclusive society. The foundation works tirelessly to raise money and provide support for para athletes in the developing world, where it is most needed.
Providing the structure so that para sport can thrive well into the future is an important part of this role. This includes providing guidance to governing bodies through workshops and events so that para sport is organised and sustainable in the long-term..Their Organisation Capacity Programme, for example, supports National Paralympic Committees to deliver the Paralympic movement across developing countries, while along with the IPC Academy, the organisation offers training courses and other types of learning.
While para sport is incrementally becoming more mainstream and valued, there is still a long way to go before it can truly be considered as receiving the same kudos and support as sport for able-bodied athletes.
Thankfully, charities such as the Agitos Foundation are leading the way to making para sport valued and sustainable in the long-term.
We can learn so much from the determination and talent of disabled athletes, so let’s get behind movements such as these and be inspired and motivated by seeing their achievements grow and thrive well into the future.