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Bulgarian federation wants all visually impaired children to engage in sports

Photo: Diana Tsankova

All visually impaired children should have the opportunity to engage in sports. The Bulgarian Sports Federation for the Visually Impaired will uphold this cause during their cooperation with the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Children with visual impairment who study at main stream schools do not engage in sport activities and the lack of motor skills makes them dependent on others throughout their whole lives. The people who are not engaged in any sport activities find it difficult to grasp the white cane and prefer to be cared for instead, the Chairman of the “Bulgarian Sports Federation for the Visually Impaired” Ivan Yanev says. Many students live with their parents and rely entirely on their care- to go to the university, or do some shopping in the nearby store:

Each class consists of 30 pupils and there may be one visually impaired children in it. However, the sports pedagogue is not able to work individually with this child. Thus, it would either sit on the bench during the physical training or merely stay and wait in the classroom. That is why we can develop together with the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Youth and Sports a state policy for the pupils with visual impairment, so they can practice sports adapted to their condition at the clubs that are part of the Bulgarian Sports Federation for the Visually Impaired. It is unacceptable for these children to grow up completely motionless without being able to run or know what does coordination, striving for victory and improvement mean.

On the other hand, the visually impaired pupils do not practice any sports, because their parents are worried that they may get hurt or injured. This is also due to the lack of information about the number of pupils with visual impairments in the general education schools. Moreover, the families do not have comprehensive information about the opportunities for sports activities. That is why, the “Bulgarian Sports Federation for the Visually Impaired” wants to receive data about the children who do not attend physical education and do not engage in any sports activities. They also want to be able to train a mobile team consisting of psychologist, sports pedagogues and coaches to meet the parents of visually impaired children. They would also like to see some existing facilities turn into sports facilities.

It is pointless to speak of the conditions for sports of visually impaired people, taking into consideration the overall sport conditions, although there are some “oasises” Ivan Yanev says. It turns out that these people have various opportunities for sports– showdown (table tennis played with a special ball into which BBs are inserted to make it audible), goalball (a team sport designed specifically for athletes with visual impairments. Participants throw a ball that has bells embedded into it into the opponents’ goal), combined cycling, bow shooting, athletics and even chess.

We are aware of the worries about the safety of the children with visual impairment. That is why, together with European colleagues, we made a step towards creating a new sport called Visible, Zornitsa Staneva from the Association of Parents of Children with Visual Impairment said. It is similar to the football game. Each team consists of five sighted and five visually impaired people. This mixed football is more dynamic than the blind football, but it is safer as well, because sighted people are trying to ensure the safety of the players during the game. This sport was already tested in Italy and all participants said that Visible brought huge pleasure to them. 

The Team of Hope consisting of young and socially disadvantaged Bulgarians will also join the tests of the new sport for the people with visual impairments.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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