The first IPC Athletics Education programme to be run in Spanish took place in Ecuador at the end of March with 30 individuals receiving key training in officiating.
With the South American country set to host their own para-athletics meeting in just under seven weeks’ time, IPC Athletics - supported by the Agitos Foundation – set up the course to help the event organisers prepare for the upcoming competition.
The IPC initiative also aims to support countries such as Ecuador, whose para-athletes do not feature as strongly as other nations on the international stage.
American Richard Robert, who led the course, said: “It's extremely important to support developing National Paralympic Committees such as Ecuador. The IPC can offer its educational programmes to broaden their technical base. That in turn, would produce a stronger pool of well-trained athletes that know the rules of the sport.”
The course also served as a valuable vehicle to promote para-athletics and para-sport in Ecuador - a country where the National Paralympic Committee is just two years old.
Even though para-sport in Ecuador is still at a formative stage, their National Paralympic Committee is nevertheless set to host an IPC-sanctioned athletics competition next month – with a number of newly trained officials now available to help run a successful event.
Robert added: “By enhancing and improving the athletics officials’ skills in IPC rules, we improve the quality of para-athletics events in that country – many will become leaders and act as track, field and call room referees.
“As National Committees organise and grow, the IPC education programmes will provide the technical knowledge to help them flourish and develop their pools of para-athletes to qualify for events and compete internationally.”
Indeed Latin America is being targeted for more Spanish-based courses to meet the demand in the region as National Paralympic Committees develop and grow. In the past two years Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Chile have all staged IPC athletics-sanctioned events.
Later this month it is the turn of El Salvador to host their first official IPC Athletics Education Programme, with a para-athletics competition planned to take place there later this year.