It is a well-known fact in local sports that Paralympics athletes are routinely neglected on the domestic sporting scene.
Indeed, even more insultingly, attention is only given to these athletes in the run-up to major competitions and once these events have ended, they are indifferently forgotten again until the next prominent event.
However, this week we have seen a new alarming trend develop.
It appears that our neglect of Paralympics athletes has now reached such frightening proportions that we are even not helping them to effectively prepare for the few opportunities to engage in sports which we avail to them.
A good case in point of this is the present conflict between the Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC) and the Tanzania Paralympics Committee (TPC), regarding the participation of local Paralympics athletes at the forthcoming All Africa Games in Mozambique.
The conflict stems from many bones of contention but it would be helpful to start at the beginning.
According to the TPC leadership, the TOC was supposed to sponsor athletes to the games. This assertion though is disputed by the TOC, who claim it is the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) who are supposed to sponsor the athletes to the Pan-African sporting contest.
Another development which has caused great disappointment within the TPC is the fact that the authorities recently ordered the body to send only five athletes to Mozambique. This comes even after the National Bank of Commerce (NBC) had generously donated seven Dar es Salaam to Maputo return tickets to the TPC. But what was the authorities’ response to this generous move? Well, they told the TPC that they could not afford to pay for the accommodation of the seven athletes.
This saga shows the very low esteem in which we hold the right of Paralympics athletes to engage in sports. And like it or loathe it, it speaks volumes about our society as well as the manner in which we treat the vulnerable groups amongst us.
The depressing thing is that this downright indifference towards Paralympics athletes has been going on for some time and it needs to change to bring these athletes, who have long been excluded, into the local sporting arena.
Lloyd Elipokea is a sports