Para Table Tennis Festival Trained Children With Disabilities, Aims To Produce More Para-athletes From Bhutan
The federation trained five children with disabilities during a two-day ‘Para table tennis festival’ held in Thimphu.
By Nima | Kuensel
In about three years from now, the Bhutan Table Tennis Federation (BTTF) expects to come up with a group of para table tennis players.
The federation trained five children with disabilities (CWDs) during a two-day ‘Para table tennis festival’ held in Thimphu from 21-22 January.
The festival, which was held for the first time in the country, saw some junior table tennis players participate along with CWDs.
An official from the national Paralympic Committee said that it was planning for more inclusive sports sessions in future, where both sportspersons and children with disabilities can train together.
Exploring ways to engage persons living with disabilities (PWDs) through sports
The national Paralympic committee is in the process of exploring opportunities to engage persons living with disabilities (PWDs) meaningfully through table tennis.
The committee was affiliated with the Bhutan Olympic Committee last year. Since then, two Paralympic athletes have taken part in the 3rd Para Asian Games in Indonesia last year.
The coach and administration assistant with the BTTF, Namgay Dorji said that the festival focused on bringing CWDs into sports, with the aim of providing them with an opportunity to represent the country in the future.
“With the start of the national Paralympic committee, physically challenged persons will have the opportunities just like the normal athletes to take part in international competitions,” said Namgay Dorji.
Playing table tennis requires using brain and concentration.
“This would also help those suffering from intellectual disability. Their memory improves and this helps them to stay fit,” Namgay Dorji explained.
He added that training CWDs was challenging.
“We are dealing with them for the first time and it’s difficult. We expect more CWDs to join later.”
More support should be given to children with disabilities
As the exercise and training moved to tougher levels, Choki from Punakha was worried about her son who could not move his right hand.
“Many families and relatives hesitate to come forward because of the stigma and discrimination. They lack a critically important support system.”
Choki said that the CWDs, if given more support, will have the potential to live an independent and successful life.
“They have talent and possess unique potential. There is a need for more support and equal opportunities.”
Words from Pema Rigsel, Bhutan’s first male Paralympian
There are about 22,000 Bhutanese living with disabilities, according to a 2017 study by the Gross National Happiness Commission.
Pema Rigsel from Thimphu is the first paralysed recurve archer from the Bhutan Archery Federation. His journey took six years, in which he went from relying on his family for basic needs to achieving his personal best shot of 60 metres. He competed at the 3rd Para Asian Games in Indonesia from 6-13 October 2018.
Currently, there are only four Para-athletes in the country and Pema Rigsel is Bhutan’s first male Paralympian.
He took part in the 3rd Para Asian Games in Indonesia last year and felt that the experience and opportunity to represent his country was enlightening.
“I got an opportunity to interact with athletes from other nations and this convinced me to work hard.”
This article first appeared in kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.