SPORTS

Fiji Table Tennis Association Smashes Down Barriers

The Fiji Table Tennis Association is taking a proactive approach to open up the sport to people with disability and they’ve enlisted the help of the Pacific Sports Partnership to
30 Sep 2014 13:44
Fiji Table Tennis Association Smashes Down Barriers
From left: Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the late Tongan Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tuvalu last month.

The Fiji Table Tennis Association is taking a proactive approach to open up the sport to people with disability and they’ve enlisted the help of the Pacific Sports Partnership to do it.

Oceania Para-Development officer Christian Holtz elaborated on how they were working to make a difference in the lives of the disabled in Fiji.

“This is the Pacific Sports Partnership-Smashing Down Barriers Oceania Table Tennis Disability Programme,” Holtz said.

“It’s a programme funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and managed by the Australian Sports Commission

“The main objective is to work through Table Tennis Australia and the Oceania Table Tennis Federation, the regional body.”

Holtz, who has been in the country for the past four weeks, said increasing participation was still a major hurdle that they faced.

“From 5pm to 8pm, we actually run clinics for people with disability where we give them free coaching.”

Holtz revealed they were working not only for short-term goals but to also produce positive results in the long run.

“Short-term, we’re looking at increasing participation and getting as many people with disabilities as possible involved, whether it be mental or physical disability.

“Long term, there’s also the opportunity to represent Fiji internationally and go to events.

The nearest one is the regional event in Bendigo, Australia in April next year and then there’s the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea so hopefully some these players will represent Fiji.

“In addition to the work that they do at the table tennis centre, they go out to hospitals, rehab centres, special schools and disability community groups and form partnerships and run activities.”

The clinics have been welcomed by local disability organisations, with the Spinal Injury Association of Fiji endorsing the programme.

“I think this is great and we support the idea of inclusiveness,” SIA president Mere Rodan said.

“We’ve never been a part of something like this and we welcome it. We’re also seriously considering forming a team for the Pacific Games.”

So far, the outreach programme has been in contact with Hilton Special School, Early Intervention, the Fiji National Council for Disabled People and the Spinal Injury Association of Fiji.

Feedback: eroni.tuinaceva@fijisun.com.fj

 




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