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