What the Coaches have to say

Close to 150 Coaches from 23 states of India participated at a Coaches Camp held in Karnataka in the month of November. Unified Sports formed the crux of the training module across 10 disciplines, namely, Athletics, Aquatics,Basketball, Badminton,Football, Floorball,Floor Hockey, Handball,Table Tennis, Volley Ball. The training program concluded with the Coaches executing their learning with over 75 Athletes.

Donnet Joseph D Souza – Karnataka

“It is a must for the Coaches to engage with Athletes. Unified Sports is a great model that is sensitizing persons without disabilities about our Athletes. This program should be added to  the School curriculum”

Donnet attended the Coaching Camp at Ballari , Karnataka as Resource person for Athletics, training 15 Coaches. During the training he has to constantly reiterate the important role played by the Coach in balancing between Athlete and the Unified Partners.

Donnet is a Physical Director in a college in Mangalore and joined SO Bharat in 1995 having seen SO Bharat grown from a seed to a big tree.  “Awareness of the movement has significantly improved .Special children have come out in big numbers. People have shed their inhibitions and now attempt to reach up to the Athletes. Families have come forward speaking about persons with Intellectual Disabilities amongst them. This is indeed a great opportunity to bring them another step closer by engaging them directly in sports”

“Being a Coach and with a vast experience behind me I am surprised to see Athletes giving stellar performances in disciplines like ‘Power Lifting’, equalling them to mainstream players. It is time to combine the two as regular trainings and competitions have equipped our Athletes sufficiently to compete alongside the rest. Through Special Olympics our Athletes gain confidence to interact. The regular Camps help develop their overall personality. This is our goal. Unified will help us get there.”

“This Camp has been a learning experience for me as well. The delivery session that witnessed participation of Coach, Unified partner and Athlete showed how it is a learning experience for all. We are learning to live together, work together. This is Inclusion. This is how our nation will also grow.”

Vilcy Ghuman- Punjab

A Special Educator having a strong sports background made Vilcy join SO Bharat in 2010. Table Tennis was her strength as she took to the sport since grade 5. She completed her college with ‘College Colour’ as well as ‘Roll of Honour’ in the field of Sports. Despite her background she did take time to train persons with Intellectual Disabilities.” Engaging with them is a different experience. How to mentor them   is important and constant.” But, now she feels that they are just like everyone else having different abilities.

Despite her awards, for Vilcy the greatest achievement is the transformation she sees in her Athletes. When she went for the Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle in December 2013 as Head Coach in Table Tennis, her biggest challenge was to train an Athlete who, despite multiple sessions was unable to serve. Through the preparatory camps and all practise sessions in Australia, she concentrated on the Athlete, also requiring an interpreter owing to the language barrier. The Athlete won Gold in Table Tennis Singles and Vilcy felt that she was rewarded! She even trained her Athletes in Unified Table Tennis for the World Games facilitating medals for each of the three.

“Unified Sports is best for my Athletes. Unified is here to make our future. It brings the society together. It is surprising seeing a change in the behaviour of Unified Partners as they play with our Athletes. It is enjoyable to see them cheer and hug each other as their team scores higher.”

The Camp at Ballari took Coaches to a higher level, centring around Unified. Unified sports should be included in schools for sure. All the children should grow recognizing and closely interacting with persons with Intellectual Disabilities, and sports is just the tool to do so. It should be introduced to other groups in the society but initiating it in schools should be a must. The partners and Athletes play together and just talk about scores and goals. They don’t think of anything else.

At the Camp, even when the skill assessment of partners and Athletes was going on, some Athletes and Partners could be seen bonding together, sharing ideas, eatables etc. Everyone saw it-this is what Unified does

Going back Vilcy has planned to discuss with her Area Director to add Unified sports in the line up for celebrations for the World Disability Day.

Nishant Sharma- Uttar Pradesh

For Nishant, the program was ‘awesome’. More about Unified Sports and more about its effective implementation was done. It was fun.’

He has been with SO Bharat for 6-7 years but found this training meticulous and very practical to implement. The Ice breaker was an Eye opener for the Unified partners. A counselling session was conducted with the Partners for better understanding of Intellectual Disabilities and Special Olympics program. Even the Senior Coaches had something new to learn. He plans to go back to his state to train Coaches and form a Unified Sports Committee.

Arpita Mohapatra- SO Bharat- Odisha

  “ Unified sports is exciting and motivating” says Arpita Mohapatra, who  joined SO Bharat- Odisha 6 years back. She coaches rural children in ‘open water swimming and rescuing’ as a means of disaster preparedness as floods ravage the area almost every year taking away precious lives. As a great swimmer and coach she has successfully trained children with intellectual disabilities. Arpita’s strong belief in the capabilities of the human beings and treating all persons as equal drove her to take up the challenging assignment of training and taking 8 persons with visual impairment to scale the mountains and reach the snowy Saurkundi pass in the PirPanjal ranges of the Himalayas situated at a height of 12900 ft above sea level as the Team Leader of the expedition in 2010.

Her unimaginable zeal can be measured by her strong inclination towards Adventure sports. Her journey in adventure sports took her through mountaineering training under the Indian Mountaineering Federation in 2007, scuba diving in the Indian Ocean following training by the Professional Association of Scuba Divers (PADI) of Australia in 2008. Sea diving with the Indian Navy, trekking and mountaineering with the Indian Navy and taking an expedition for white river rafting, would be few more. She has even participated in a 600 km arduous mountain biking from Kullu (Himachal Pradesh) to Leh (J&K) reaching the highest road in the world at a height of over 18500 feet, a feat that gave her an entry into the Limca Book of Records

Arpita was a trainee in Aquatics at the Camp.“ This Camp is a refresher course for us. It has helped us recall lessons that were fading away in our mind. It has also geared our attention towards newer subjects.” I train both, Athletes as well as children without Intellectual disabilities. It will be new for me to train a unified group. You need to constantly counsel Athletes as well as partners in a Unified group. This camp has sensitized me. The job for me is to combine the two most meaningfully and I will do it!

Anupama Singh- Delhi

It was only in 2010 when Anupama joined SO Bharat that she got to know that there was a sports program for persons with Intellectual disabilities. She has completed all 4 levels of MYAS training. Working with the Directorate of Education, Delhi, she has always been inclined towards Inclusive Education and strongly believes in sports being an equalizer that can develop confidence of persons with intellectual Disabilities and multiple disabilities. She is interested in making sports mandatory for persons with Intellectual disabilities and now would like to endorse Unified Sports.

She participated in the Camp at Ballari as a trainee for Table Tennis. “It was a very high level Camp giving pointers that would help me effect better coordination between the Athlete and the ball .  The idea of Unified and importance of skill assessment of partners/ Athletes , team composition etc. were clearly defined. Although I have conducted a Unified Volley ball match in the past ,I learnt more about it now. I will now conduct a Unified Table Tennis training , replicating this training with Coaches in my state.

Plan Ahead

Unified Coaches training is in the offing as these Coaches will extend it to more Coaches in their respective states and disciplines involving active participation of Unified athletes and partners.