The 2015 Paralympics Games official opening day coincided with the International Day of Sport for Peace and Development, promulgated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 to celebrate sport’s contribution to education and social and economic development. The sporting event ran from 8 to 11 April with the country’s 10 provinces competing. Remarks made during the official opening of the 8th edition of the Zimbabwe National Paralympics Games, held at Prince Edward High School in Harare, reveal that the country is aiming to send its largest ever Paralympics team to Rio in 2016.
Addressing the sports gathering, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture Dr Thokozile Chitepo, said she is pleased with the development of sport in the country, and will ensure the Zim-Rio 2016 Paralympics team will get the support they need from government sport policies.
“We want a strong team, and as Government we have already started these initiatives, like the Zimbabwe National Paralympics Games, which do not just focus on having people living with disabilities participating in sport, but rather also aim to mainstream their activities into some of the society’s programmes. We are also currently in the process of putting together a National Sport Policy which will direct how sport is going to be run in this country,” said Chitepo.
Dr Chitepo said she is aware that sport is a fundamental human right, and this is expressed well in the constitution of Zimbabwe. Section 32 states that “Government must take practical measures to encourage sporting and recreational activities, including the provision of sporting and recreational facilities for all people.” “I am happy to note that as a government we are prioritising sport,” she added
The Zimbabwe National Paralympics Games is the premier sporting activity for disabled people in Zimbabwe, as it brings together athletes and officials from the 10 provinces. Apart from sporting competitions, athletes and officials are exposed to social issues that affect their lives through education and entertainment programmes.
The Zimbabwe National Paralympics Games (ZNPG) was formed in 2008 by the Sports and Recreation Commission, following the adoption of the Policy for Inclusion in Sport. Before the formation of the ZNPG, sports for the disabled were run by specific associations for the disabled, like the Special Olympics, Blind Sports Association, and the Danhiko Games.
The Rio 2016 Paralympics Games will be the fifteenth Paralympics Games, and will take place between 7 and 18 September 2016.