Recently, over 400 children with disabilities from six schools in Dar es Salaam and Coast regions, gathered at the Uhuru Mchanganyiko Primary School to take part in a unique festival of sports.
Indeed, considering that sport for people and youngsters with disabilities seems to be almost non-existent, the event was an enormous boost for Paralympics on the local scene. Having said this though, one has to remember that there are still precious few opportunities for people with disabilities to engage in sports.
As I previously asserted, there needs to be a complete change in our collective mindset as a society about how we view the importance of sports for people with disabilities.
It is difficult to argue with the view that for some time now, the hallowed rights of people and youngsters with disabilities to develop their intrinsic sporting potential have been blatantly disregarded.
Come to think of it, the manner in which we treat people with disabilities in other spheres of life as well, leaves much to be desired.
For instance, anyone would be extremely hard pressed to find a commercial bus that comes readily equipped with a ramp to make it easier for wheelchair users to get on and off the bus. In addition, very few of the television stations on the local media landscape broadcast their nightly news bulletins with the help of a sign language translator which would make it easier for the deaf to understand what is being said.
So, perhaps it is unsurprising that this same indifferent attitude would extend to the way in which we regard the value of sport for people with disabilities.
The tragedy is that in an Olympic and Paralympics year, people with disabilities in the country will have to make do with hearing and reading of the quintessential exploits of others with disabilities excelling on the international sporting stage.
Bluntly put, this is simply not good enough. As others have stressed time and again, we need to try infinitely harder to ensure that people and youngsters with disabilities are given sufficient opportunities to engage in sports on a regular and consistent basis throughout the year, every year. Otherwise we will have failed them.
Lloyd Elipokea is a sports