Meet Rabiul Gazi, a 14-year-old athlete with intellectual impairment. Rabiul has been playing Floorball in National and Internationals for the last 5 years and has been a gold medalist in Abu Dhabi Special Olympics Summer Games. The lockdown due to Covid 19 has been too hard on him as both his parents are daily wage earners with an average monthly income of merely 5000 rupees. Moreover, his mother mentioned he had sleeping and other behavioral issues due to continuous sitting back at home. He also couldn’t do online classes or webinars as his family had no smartphone.
West Bengal is one of the worst-hit among the states during the Covid 19 lockdown period also because of a natural calamity super cyclone Amphan which devastated north and south 24 Parganas and the districts are still recovering from the hit. Thanks to Kamarhati, a small municipality in north 24 Parganas who have started organizing small unified sports including both athletes with and without intellectual disabilities maintaining Covid 19 regulation. This could all happen after 7 months because of Special Olympics Bharat supported by Stavros Niarchos Foundation who runs Unified school program in two districts of West Bengal.
Tamal Chatterjee, a coach working with special athletes for the last 15 years has been the main organizer in reviving back sports for the special athletes, post lockdown period. With athletes from 8 schools including mainstream and special schools, these training programs are bringing special athletes back to life. Even the general athletes or the unified partners as they are called in Special Olympics look forward to these sessions throughout the week. As one of the unified partner and footballer Tiyas Chatterjee puts it ..my understanding of sports was always with general individuals, I was overwhelmed when I was introduced to unified sports, and partnering with an athlete with an intellectual disability has been a unique experience opening a world of new beginnings for me.
-Dr Shuvojit Moulik