Azerbaijan engaging children with special needs in sports [PHOTO]
By Laman Ismayilova
Azerbaijan is taking important steps to encourage more children with special needs to engage in sports and physical education.
The Children's Paralympic movement was established in the country in 2013.
The Azerbaijan Paralympic Committee (ANPC) also prepared a new strategy to advance the development of sports for disabled children.
The initiative, called the "Strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan for Children 2020-2030", was approved by the country's President Ilham Aliyev.
Moreover, Azerbaijan was one of the first countries in the region to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the signing of the new State Programme on Inclusive Education.
Over this time, many children with special needs were involved in different sports disciplines.
The athletes trained by professional coaches practice judo, swimming, para-taekwondo, powerlifting, boccia, handball, table tennis, wheelchair dancing, alpine skiing, and snowboarding.
They also take part in mass sports events organized at the local and international levels.
Children's Paralympic Cup
The Children's Paralympic Cup has been held in Azerbaijan with the support of the UNICEF office in Baku and Azercell Telekom.
The sports competition was held at the Paralympic Sports Complex, bringing together 100 Paralympians from different parts of the country.
The young athletes took part in competitions in five sports disciplines. In total, 21 sets of medals in various categories in judo, powerlifting, table tennis, taekwondo, and swimming were played in the competitions, in which about 100 children with disabilities participated.
The winners and prize-winners were awarded by Executive Director of the National Paralympic Committee Eldar Babayev, Deputy Executive Director, Head of the Sports Department Rauf Mursalov, and a member of the paralympic judo team, bronze medalist of the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo Namig Abasli.
Paralympic movement in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan made its debut at the Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996, competing in athletics and powerlifting.
This followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
The country made its Paralympic Games debut at the 1996 Summer Paralympics in Atlanta, competing in track and field and powerlifting. In the same year, the National Paralympic Committee of Azerbaijan was established.
Since then, national paralympians have taken part in many international competitions and enriched the country's medal haul with multiple awards.
Among them are seven Paralympic winners, including two Paralympic champions.
National para-athlete Heydar Hamidli recently won a gold medal at the Dubai 2021 World Para-Athletics Grand Prix in the United Arab Emirates.
Heydar Hamidli climbed to the highest step of the pedestal with a result of 43 meters 75 cm. The para-athlete achieved it in the F57 category in javelin throwing.
In 2021, the National Paralympic Committee celebrated its 25th anniversary. The novel Yenilmaz (Invincible) and the video of the same name were presented as part of the celebration.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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