“The support the Agitos Foundation gives to the different National Paralympic Committees is crucial”
In total 218 young promising athletes, swimmers and goalball players, and 48 coaches from Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala participated in the Agitos Foundation Youth Talent Camp held in Nicaragua in early 2016, a project funded by the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee.
This initiative aimed to encourage the participants to increase their knowledge and improve their training ahead of the Sao Paulo 2017 Youth Parapan American Games, Nicaragua 2018 Para Central American Games and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“Nicaragua and the rest of the participant countries have benefitted a lot from this camp,” said Dionicio Zeledon, the project’s General Coordinator.
“Coaches who were trained and athletes who were identified have improved and have increased their knowledge ahead of the next regional and international competitions.”
The camp also gave continuity to the previous programmes that had taken place in the region, impacting thousands of people from across the Americas.
“The youth talent camp in Nicaragua and the previous workshops held in Central America have helped raise awareness about the Paralympic Movement in the region and have attracted new talents,” said Zeledon.
In December 2014, the Road TO15: Agitos Foundation Sessions took place in Mexico ahead of last year´s Parapan American Games, whilst Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hosted another edition of the ´Road to…´ series in the build-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The camp in Nicaragua was supported by a grant from the Agitos Foundation through another of its Para sport development programmes.
“The support the Agitos Foundation gives to the different National Paralympic Committees is crucial,” Zeledon added.
“Thanks to all this work the Agitos Foundation has been doing, Nicaragua´s government is now supporting us financially and helping us to have access to sporting facilities.
“I am hoping to see many of the coaches and the athletes that participated in this event competing in future Paralympic Games.”
El Salvador’s 15-year-old swimmer Nahomy del Carmen Guevara had been competing in regional events for two years before taking part in the camp, which motivated her to keep training hard and maybe one day fulfill her dream of representing her country at the Paralympics.
“Being part of this camp taught me that there are no limits and that disability should not stop you from doing what you like,” said Guevara.
“With a lot of effort I may qualify for a Paralympic Games in the future. The Agitos Foundation is very important for all of us during this process, giving us its support.”
Guatemala’s 14-year-old athlete Jorge Mario Gonzalez Cosigua also enjoyed this unique experience.
“I found this camp very interesting. I have learned new techniques that will help me when competing,” he said.
Panama’s 12-year-old swimmer Benito Alexis Perlaza Valdez also took part in the initiative.
“I started competing three years ago and now I know I can really reach far. I like what I do and I will train hard to improve,” he said.
Jose Luis Campo, President of the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC), expressed his satisfaction with the work the Agitos Foundation is doing in the continent.
“It was very important not just for Nicaragua but for the whole of Central America because the region is starting to develop the grassroots and I believe we will see the results in the near future,” he said.
“Thanks to the support of the Agitos Foundation, larger and more qualified delegations from more countries will attend the regional and international Games.”