• Wednesday, March 29, 2023


Anita Choudhrie: Positive impact of Paralympic success

Mandip Sehmi was part of Team GB’s squad in the Rio Olympics

By: Eastern Eye Staff

Asian children with a disability are being encouraged more by their family to take up sport following the Paralympics in Rio, according to campaigners.

Charities said the Games in Brazil and the London Paralympics in 2012 has helped change attitudes towards disabilities but a barrier remains in funding for activities.

Great Britain’s disabled athletes will hold a parade to celebrate their success in Manchester on October 17 and in London the following day. The Team won 147 medals, 64 of them gold, in September.

Among the British Asians competing was Gaz Chaudhry in the wheelchair basketball team which won bronze. Mandip Sehmi, Ayaz Bhuta and Bulbul Hussain were all in the wheelchair rugby team that was eliminated in the group stage.

Anita Choudhrie set up the Path to Success charity which has raised money for London Titans Wheelchair Basketball club, where athletes who competed in the Rio Games learnt their skills.

She told Eastern Eye: “The impact taking part in sport can have on a disabled person’s confidence is truly profound. The progress in mentalities since London 2012 has been very positive, as it really brought disabled sport into the mainstream.

“There is now less stigma around disabled sport; children can see role models on TV and parents are seeing the value in encouraging them to become more involved.”

Anita Choudhrie set up the Path to Success charity
Anita Choudhrie set up the Path to Success charity

She added: “However, one of the greatest hurdles to overcome is undoubtedly funding for disability sport. “What is important is that clubs like the London Titans wheelchair basketball team, who provide such an essential outlet for young disabled people in their community, continue to receive the financial support they require. They receive no central sports funding, meaning they rely on donors.”

The Sporting Equals group will be running projects in Bradford and Manchester until 2019, focusing on BME communities and disabilities to encourage more people to follow their sporting dreams.

Meanwhile, the Disability Rights UK charity attended a conference last month in London on the impact the Rio Games can have.

A spokeswoman said: “One of the messages was about getting inactive people active. The inspiration and enthusiasm of the Games needs to be carried into real action. It also needs to be sustained.”

Mandy Sanghera, a human rights activist and government adviser on disability issues, believes more work is needed to tackle attitudes among some families.

She told Eastern Eye: “There is still a negative stigma around disability within the Asian community; we need to look at ability versus disability. We need to show Asian parents that our children can achieve greatness if we let them. We need to send out a positive message.”

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