THE first-ever Stroke Games for survivors of strokes, organised by the National Stroke Association of Malaysia (Nasam) on Saturday, proved to be a great success.
Held at the Panasonic National Sports Complex in Shah Alam, the Stroke Games 2017 brought together delegations of stroke survivors from all nine Nasam clubs in the country to compete in games commonly used as rehabilitation exercises for stroke survivors.
More than 400 stroke survivors – the youngest being just nine – took part in the 17 competitive individual and group games. They represented Nasam clubs based in Johor, Penang, Ampang, Perak, Kuantan, Kedah, Sabah, Malacca and Petaling Jaya.
Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah, who is the patron of the Malaysian Paralympic Council, turned up to show support for the event.
Nasam founder and chairman Janet Yeo felt that the Stroke Games achieved its primary goal of lifting the spirits of stroke survivors and showing them that they were still capable of many things after stroke.
“What we wanted to do was to elevate the stroke survivors’ attitudes and feelings about life beyond stroke. We want to lift them up and show them that they can do anything,” she explained.
Yeo said she hoped the event opened the eyes of other stroke survivors who were staying put at home and had given up. "The games might just show them there is still life after stroke," she said.
She added that Nasam wanted to make the Stroke Games a biennial event and would also consider taking it beyond Malaysian shores to the Asean level.
Steven Cheah, 62, a former mountain climber who suffered a mild stroke four months ago, is grateful to have a second chance at life.
“I think this event is very good because when you get a stroke, you feel useless, like you cannot do many things. But when you take part here, you realise you’re not as useless as you think,” said the Nasam Petaling Jaya participant.
Gan Moi Hua, 69, a participant from Malacca, suffered a moderate stroke in 2014 and has been recovering with the support of her family and Nasam.
“This is a very good event. At least when we come here, we can make friends,” she said when asked for her opinion on the event.
Among the competitive events featured were walking relay, basketball free throws, darts, mini-bowling, cup stacking and bouncing table tennis balls into cups, with points awarded to determine medal placing.
Most of the participants looked genuinely excited to be there and competed with vigour and enthusiasm. They were provided with sponsored food and drinks.
At the end of the day, the Petaling Jaya Club emerged the overall champions, with Sabah coming in second, and Ampang and Perak Clubs tying for third place.