AT first glance, the children playing futsal looked like any youngster bursting with energy on the court.
Who would have thought that some of them were children with intellectual disability (ID) participating in a sport with nary a difference.
“That was the main purpose of the first Intellectual Disability Unified Futsal Tournament, which was organised to ensure that ID-categorised children could enjoy the thrill of participating in a sport,” said Pusat Jagaan dan Latihan Insan Istimewa (IMC) founder and event organiser Raaginee Shalesh.
The tournament involved 50 special needs children and 50 able-bodied players from schools under IMC in Petaling Jaya.
For Raaginee, the word “Unified” was important as the event underscored encouraging children of all abilities to play together.
“They have very strong imitation skills; they learn by watching so you need to show them how to do it and they will do it.
“You show them how to kick the ball and they will kick it for you. No more shouting and screaming,” said Raaginee about the special children.
IMC student and participant Muhammad Shakir Sharil said he enjoyed the experience of being able to compete with differently-abled children.
Tournament volunteer Ravinesh Shalesh said he had learned many new things since becoming a volunteer for events involving the disabled, such as their behaviour and what they can do despite their disability.
“They are sweet people and very fun to be with. Just because they act differently, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The only way to do it is to try. It’s something you need to learn from,” said Shalesh as a word of advice to those who wanted to volunteer at events participated by people with disabilities.
The tournament was the first step in preparing the children with intellectual disability for the upcoming Special Olympics state games, tentatively scheduled to be held in October at Universiti Malaya.
Raaginee said a similar unified badminton tournament would be held next month followed by a “Let’s Play Carnival” in September.
She invited the public to join in all IMC events and encouraged them to either volunteer or help the centre raise funds so more events for special children could be organised.
Individuals and organisations wishing to join the volunteer programme or donate to IMC can call 017-884 8943 (Raginee).
Did you find this article insightful?