Trainers of disabled sportsmen complain about lack of facilities in Russia
A round table recently took place in Moscow on paralympic sports. The theme was on what was more important – victory for a few or participation by many? Participants invited included members of the Russian Paralympic Committee, the Federation of Sports for the Disabled, and the All-Russian Association of the Disabled, but they did not come. Nikolai Beregovoy, trainer of the Russian blind football team, Islam Ibragimov, senior trainer of the Russian paralympic judo team for sight-impaired people, and Alexander Kosatov, fencing trainer, described the opportunities for sport for people with special needs. The point of view of the government was set out by a representative of the department for social integration of people with special needs of the Moscow department for social welfare, Olga Dzhumanchyk. Most of the trainers considered that the main impediment to broader participation in such sports is the inaccessibility of transport and sports facilities. At the same time, Mr Ibragimov thought that sport could be the most important method of rehabilitation. Some of the people he had trained had become European and world champions in paralympic sports, travelled around the world, had higher education, and had overcome their disabilities. But the trainer had been unable for the past few months to obtain the necessary clothing for future judo champions to take part in world competitions. He also found he had to perform a large range of functions. The others agreed with him. They had to take the participants to competitions in their own cars and deal with many of their needs. The problem is linked to a general decline in facilities for mass participation in sports in Russia, to the extent that many Russians are unable to take part in regular sporting activities, and for disabled people it is doubly difficult.
Ms Dzhumanchuk thought that over the past two years the city of Moscow had done a lot to improve the quality of life of people with special needs, including as concerns sports. But more needs to be done, she admitted. She said there are plans to do more in 2010-2012 within the programme “Sport Moscow 3”. The programme provides for ensuring better access to sports facilities for people with special needs, construction of a new sports centre for them, training of trainers for them, including for children with special needs, and a coordinating council for paralympic sports. The Moscow authorities also plan to introduce a service of social facilitators and an inspectorate for the facilities. The trainers asked Ms Dzhumanchuk a lot of questions, which mostly concerned the gap between official accounts of the achievements and reality. For example, they pointed out that physical rehabilitation facilities adapted for people with special needs promised within the programme “Sport Moscow 2” still did not exist. One such facility is inaccessible for wheelchairs for example, as the sports hall is on the fifth floor with no lift. Ms Dzhumanchuk invited the trainers to put their complaints and ideas in writing, and undertook to invite members of the Moscow Sports Committee to come and discuss them.