Oceania sport is transforming to become truly inclusive, as the partnership between the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) and the Oceania Paralympic Committee (OPC) inspires new commitments from both parties.
In a landmark statement, Paul Bird – President of the Oceania Paralympic Committee, which constitutes nine National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) – said that looking towards the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games (B2032); “We are committed to developing eight more National Paralympic Committees to match the seventeen NOCs of ONOC.”
“We will also need ONOC assistance to work with our current National Paralympic Committees to help them raise the bar of activities, visibility and recognition within their nations.”
Good practice examples of inclusion and integration between OPC and ONOC members NNOC and SASNOC
OPC President Bird cited two standout examples of ONOC members that rose to meet challenges presented by the Oceania Paralympic Committee in the past year.
President Bird said he; “Visited Nauru, specifically the Nauru National Olympic Committee, led by the Hon. Marcus Stephen, which was the first targeted new NPC model and was overwhelmed by the welcome, support and attitude to, ‘let’s get this happening’.”
“Inclusion was just assumed as the norm and discussion on integration was part of conversation around athletes’ access to gyms or the need to tie down straps for benches – nothing was seen as a problem.
“Since that visit we have had a powerlifting workshop in Nauru with our own powerlifting coach who recently attended a workshop in the Solomon Islands and that was a great example of inclusion and integration.”
OPC President Bird continued; “At the same time, the Samoa Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC) with Secretary-General Maureen Tuimaleali’ifano and her team rehabilitated the struggling NPC in Samoa with a rejuvenated interim board and membership through a community-based approach.”
“SASNOC as a guiding body ensured governance was in place to then allow for talent identification to occur.
“These examples give me great optimism as we move forward on this development journey engaging toward a sustainable model for para-sport within your countries.”
Insight: No inclusion without integration
President Bird provided invaluable insight on the term ‘inclusion’ by discussing how we cannot achieve inclusion without integration. This served as a learning highlight for delegates.
‘Integration’ refers to the deeper practice of ensuring the needs of a person with a disability or impairment are taken into consideration to allow full participation and engagement. In simple terms, like providing a sign language interpreter for a person who is hearing impaired at a meeting.
This insight and how it bears on engagement and participation undergirded President Bird’s inspiring and thoughtful sharing.
Article adapted from the ONOC website.