Game changer: Special Olympics pins hope on new government
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, April 5 (EMN): The Special Olympics Nagaland (SON) has seen many hurdles – on as well as off the field – in the nine years that it has been active. It was in 2009 that the SON started to enable differently-able participants from across the state came together and take part in various sporting activities each year.
Since then the SON team has been working tirelessly to support Person with Disabilities (PwDs) during the games held each year in the state and outside. In the 2011 National Games for PwDs, the SON returned with 18 medals which included six gold; eight silver; and four bronze.
The following year, the SON athletes collected 10 medals – six gold, and two silver and bronze medals each. SON with the special athletes were also part of the Indian team during the FIFA Global Cup in Bangkok which was held from June 15 to 22nd, 2013 and also the Asia Pacific Games in Australia from Dec. 1 to 7th, 2013.
All this was done without any form of assistance from the state government.
The SON team consists of approximately 60 coaches who have also taken active roles as mentors for the past 9 years. Area Director of SON, Arenla informed that the coaches are not paid any salary or stipend during these games.
“All the coaches have been voluntarily helping out for the past 9 years, going district to district (in Nagaland) conducting the sporting events without expecting anything in return too,” she shared.
When contacted by Eastern Mirror to comment on the new government’s approach to Special Olympics since its sports policies have no specific mention of PwDs, Advisor for Youth Resources and Sports, Zale Neikha said that the government will try to initiate and promote the sports of the differently-able persons.
He said that the PDA government, in consultation with the Nagaland Olympic Association (NOA), will look to include some of the sport disciplines of SON in the tournaments organised by the NOA in the future.
This year the Special Olympics are being held under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of Khelo India – Sports for all. The initiative was started during Modi’s term as the chief minister of Gujarat where he donated INR 10 cr. towards the promotion of sports for differently-able persons.