"Through UK Sport the Paralympic Movement has grown considerably. Children in specialist schools would never have participated in the extra-curricular activities, which were only for able-bodied students."
It’s not easy developing a partnership between two organizations separated by 7,000km, but UK Sport and NPC Tanzania have managed it. The Paralympian interviewed Nick Pink, UK Sport’s International Development Adviser and Johnson Jasson, President of NPC Tanzania to find out how.
Q: How did your partnership begin?
NPC Tanzania: After the IPC introduced us to UK Sport, the NPC developed a project for 7-14-year-old primary and secondary school students. Our intention was to develop future Paralympians.
UK Sport: In 2006 the government cut investment in disability sport. The NPC recognized schoolchildren were being marginalized, so wanted to develop sports for people with a disability and raise awareness that disability wasn’t something that could be ignored. It was led by the NPC and we supported with awareness-raising, funding and with existing partnerships within the country.
Q What did the project involve and how successful have they been?
UK Sport: It started with training teachers, working with young people with a disability, organizing competitions and providing sports equipment to give athletes a far better quality of coaching. At three schools, the NPC worked hard to ensure facilities had a flat playing area and quality teaching and learning. This has expanded to schools across the whole country.
NPC Tanzania: Through UK Sport the Paralympic Movement has grown considerably. Children in specialist schools would never have participated in the extra-curricular activities, which were only for able-bodied students. We are now popular and well-known in almost every region of Tanzania. Next year, students will be involved in the national inter-school competitions.
Q: What were the biggest challenges you faced and how were they overcome?
NPC Tanzania: The variation in cost during the implementation and that some teachers, trained in Paralympic sport, are relocating to other schools which have no students with a disability. We are trying to bring them back into the Paralympic circle.
UK Sport: The NPC is one of our greatest partnerships due the commitment and passion of its staff. Communication is good, even though it can be challenging via email, and we try and have at least one face-to-face per year.
One challenge is developing the partnerships with other agencies, like the National Sports Council. I’ve only seen real linkage develop in the last 18 months where Sports Council and NPC representatives sit on each other’s governing bodies.
Lack of funding is a real challenge for them and they are working hard to resolve that as at Tanzanian corporate and government level it’s not a priority at the moment. It’s a constant battle for them, though we are hoping as the work becomes established and gains a higher profile it may change.
With just one more year of the partnership remaining, NPC Tanzania is hoping to some of its athletes qualify for London 2012. They are also concentrating on accessing unreached regions, improving performance, identifying talent and developing sports leadership in secondary schools.