Moving Forward the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Nepal
There are lessons to be learned from disability sports. It is those of us without a physical disability who put up barriers that prevent people with disabilities from playing, e.g. I’ve seen steps on many types of playing courts, making it difficult to get onto the court. Competition is not necessarily about winning a medal, although this does remain a priority for many; it is more about having the opportunity to play, build a constructive dialogue and interacting with friends. Those participating in disability sports do not take any part of this for granted, it is everyone’s right to play, but sometimes the mere arrival to the field of play constitutes the first challenge for many of them.
Because of the upsurge in disability sports playing in Nepal there is currently a great opportunity to make major impacts. But this is going to take the development of partnerships especially among all of the organisations working in this field. It’s going to take a real focus on people with disabilities and not necessarily what organisations want, but what the people want.
Some preliminary work has already started on this partnership. Currently informal discussions are taking place regarding the best way to develop a Sport for Disability Network. If a formal agreement could be reached this network would work on promoting and coordinating disability sports and advocacy. All of these tasks are necessary if disability sports are to really move forward with a focus on the players, ultimately creating more peaceful communities and societal inclusion.
It’s never enough in a partnership to provide “lip service” stating that, “yes we want to collaborate”. This is more about finding the will, putting organisational needs second and persons with disability first. Wouldn’t it be a phenomenal showcase, not only in Nepal, but also throughout Asia to have a wheelchair basketball league throughout the country that was supported by all disability sports organisations? If a league can be formed with basketball then why not football, cricket (site impaired), swimming and any other sport that people wanted to participate in.
Although we have numerous difficulties in Nepal, we are at the cusp of some great partnerships when it comes to persons with disabilities. From my more than 3.5 years of living in Nepal I know that there are tremendous struggles to reach a goal. Things just aren’t easy. But imagine what groups involved in disability sports can do if they are willing to not only talk but to jointly collaborate in promoting the rights of persons with disability. Sooner rather than later Nepal can become a shining example of what a peaceful and inclusive society really looks like.