By Nélson Rodrigues [email protected]
ParaSport is an association that stages and promotes a set of activities for disabled sports people. It was founded in 2004 in Alcantarilha by David Player, a British citizen with a motor disability, and André Leman, a sports teacher for disabled people who at that time was studying tourism and marketing at the University of Algarve.
David, who at that time owned a company called Wheeling Around the Algarve, and André had as a main goal for the association organising sports events that would make the Algarve a more attractive tourist destination for people with disabilities and sports groups.
ParaSport is now preparing for a special year, full of action indeed.
A wheelchair basketball team from Parasport will be participating in the National Championship and Cup of Portugal in partnership with the CBA (Basketball Club of Albufeira) and Portimão Municipality.
In addition, a wheelchair handball team is also participating in the first handball National Championship sponsored by the Sociedade Recreativa de Vale Judeu and a handcycling team, which is sponsored by Ciclo Clube de Lagos and G-Ride, a concept bike store.
ParaSport has scheduled an international hand-cycling training camp from March 18 until 31 and the Algarve Wheelchair Basketball Open 2013 from May 24 until May 26; both will be held in the municipality of Albufeira.
At the moment, ParaSport has two athletes integrated in different sports: André Sobreiro in handcycling and Guilherme Ribeiro in basketball. Also in the pipeline, José Paulino, Hélder Farroba and Gary Nunes intend to participate in the first National Handball team.
Unfortunately, the association is hanging by a thread. It has cancelled workout sessions and at times has not been able to participate in sports competitions due to financial reasons. André dips deep into his own pocket each month in order to keep the institution running.
Most of the equipment is expensive. For instance, a basketball or handball wheelchair can cost between €2,000 and € 4,000, while a handcycle can reach €3,000 and €8,000. These prices undoubtedly represent a stumbling block for the institution and, consequently, the disabled athletes cannot participate in all sports competitions.
The ParaSport collaborates with ANDDEMOT (National Sport Association for Motor Disabilities), the Portuguese Federation for Adapted Sports and Portugal’s Paralympic Committee. This cooperation aims to find highly skilled athletes as well as promoting the sport through international events.
During 2011 and 2012, ParaSport had a contract with Portimão Municipality which helped them over the last two years. Nowadays, the financial situation has got worse and the institution has had to find creative ways to fund itself. Tough times call for tough creative measures. Initiatives such as workshops and fundraising efforts have been keeping the institution’s head above water.
In order to keep ParaSport in the public eye, Facebook, press releases and public events, for instance, play an important role in promoting the institution.
Last December, ParaSport athletes spent a staggering 28 hours, in total, playing basketball in their wheelchairs at AquaPortimão shopping centre in order to raise funds.
In short, this institution does much more than keeping disabled people active and integrated in society; it promotes equality and determination to achieve our dreams regardless of any barriers.
Anyone can support the ParaSport institution by purchasing a miniature wheelchair, 20cm tall, at the institution in Alcantarilha.
282 485 284 | 966 071 051 (André Leman)