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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ball Talk an occassional column

Ball Talk an occassional column

Ball Talk an occassional column

Ball Talk

an occassional column

The Swiss Academy of Development, which ironically abbreviates itself to the acronym

SAD, has just made the Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled) very happy

indeed by awarding the project 'Best Practice' status. The CNVLD was nominated as

an example of a 'Best Practice Aid and Development Project' by the International

Paralympic Committee (IPC). What the IPC and SAD praised was the unique way in which

the CNVLD has given hope to some of the poorest and most marginalized sections of

Khmer society: disabled land mine survivors. Seventy percent of the athletes involved

in the program are land mine survivors and the work the CNVLD does to raise awareness

of the land mine issue has seen its players labeled the 'Harlem Globetrotters of

the Ban Landmines Movement'. SAD, which is an internationally recognized centre of

expertise in the analysis of sport as a tool for development, sees this as exemplifying

the power of sports to change society.

Sport has received far less academic interest than other social spheres such as politics

or religion. However, in recent years this trend has been reversed with researchers

adding to a growing body of evidence supporting a vision of sport as a symbolic blueprint

of social values and cultural norms. Consequently, SAD is committed to researching

sport's potential for sustainable development, peace building activities and for

social and cultural integration in developing, transitional and Western nations.

They recognize that sport can, for example, generate behavioral dispositions and

values which are crucial to the processes of individual and collective socialization.

SAD's vision of what sport can achieve becomes reality in Phnom Penh where the first

ever internationally accredited coaching clinic for disabled volleyball has just

been established. Fourteen coaches participated, all of whom will be shortly receiving

their coaching certificates from the German ambassador Dr. Pius Fisher. The new Kien

Klaeng Sports Court was opened on January 5 by Australian Ambassador Lisa Filipetto.

The purpose-built international sized court has been funded by AusAID and is able

to cater to a multitude of sporting activities including volleyball, wheelchair basketball,

and badminton. Disabled sport is flourishing in Cambodia, and now with SAD's recognition

and support it is possible that the CNVLD will soon achieve their objective of making

Cambodia the Asean Centre for Disability Sports.

- Chris Minko

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