Answering the SOS on inclusivity through bowling

Winners celebrating together at the bowling tournament. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

FANS of Malaysian Sports Supporters Club (Famemas) hit the lanes running with several Special Olympics Selangor (SOS) members in a bowling competition.

Spearheaded by SOS president and bowling coach David Foo, the event aimed to connect intellectually disabled individuals with sports enthusiasts.

“Our goal is to create a platform for these children to enjoy sports while fostering social interaction,” said Foo.

“The exposure that the athletes get from teaming up with outsiders is invaluable and helps bring awareness about their special abilities.”

Foo added that the event was made possible thanks to support from Youth and Sports Ministry through its Rakan Muda programme as well as volunteer parents from SOS.

The event attracted 70 participants for the team bowling competition held in a unified format at a shopping centre in Subang Jaya, Selangor.

The format had 20 athletes, aged 10 and above, paired with Famemas members.

Each team consisted of three participants: two members from Famemas and one SOS athlete.

Famemas vice-president Hafidz Mohd Zihim said bowling was the perfect sport for their maiden collaboration as it promoted socialisation and teamwork.

“It helps our members to better understand these remarkable individuals and how to connect with them,” he said.

Hafidz also told StarMetro that Famemas hoped to make the competition an annual event, potentially involving other organisations in a similar vein.

Foo said having SOS athletes take part in the competition was part of the organisation’s goal to expand their interests.

“Once a child masters a particular sport, we encourage them to try new activities like basketball, table tennis and swimming,” he said.

“This helps them explore new interests, and we do not limit them to one sport.”

The event also proved to be a valuable support network for parents who face the challenges of raising children with intellectual disabilities.

Zaini Baharom, mother of Khairul Zaim Kamarulzam, who won gold at the last Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany, praised the initiative.

“Participating in this event is wonderful. It brings parents facing similar challenges together, creating a supportive community,” said Zaini, who joined SOS in 2019.

Another participating parent who wanted to be known as Amy, echoed the benefits of having communal support from parents in similar situations.

“This is the first SOS event my son signed up for and the whole family turned up to give him moral support.

“I’m thankful I found a support group and am grateful to be a part of it.

“We are looking forward to participating in more events and being part of the community,” she said.

Hafidz also highlighted Famemas’ commitment to supporting special needs athletes moving forward.

“Famemas hopes to one day support Special Olympics athletes in future world games.

“It is time to support them and not only focus on international athletes,” he said.

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