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‘Para’ athletics will end stigma over disabilities, says Ly Thuch

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ly Thuch meets with a women’s Cambodian wheelchair basketball team that will compete at the ASEAN Para Games 2023 in June. Hong Menea

‘Para’ athletics will end stigma over disabilities, says Ly Thuch

Senior minister – and first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority – Ly Thuch said that he is committed to helping to improve the image of people with disabilities so that they will no longer experience discrimination and will be able to play their part in building the nation.

As the recently elected president of the Cambodian Wheelchair Basketball Federation, Thuch wants people with disabilities to show off their sporting abilities, so that people know that they have the ability to contribute.

“My role as president of the federation is to encourage people with disabilities to believe that they are capable of supporting their families, and that we all value their participation in the development of the country,” he told The Post.

According to Muy Seu, secretary-general of the federation, Thuch has become the first person to be elected president since the federation’s inception in 2012.

Thuch said that he had always viewed sport as an important activity for all communities.

“I want people living in communities affected by mines to start focusing on playing sports for general exercise. Who knows, with enough training, they may become star athletes,” he said.

Since assuming the presidency, Thuch’s most important task is to strengthen the quality of the Kingdom’s wheelchair basketball players ahead of next year’s 12th ASEAN Para Games 2023.

“Our plan is to create an ecosystem for our players to succeed on and off the court. The main goal for the wheelchair basketball team in 2023 is to grow awareness around persons with disabilities and the challenges they face in everyday.

“We are aiming to be the catalyst of conversation between communities surrounding disabilities while also remaining competitive,” he said.

Thuch also intends to encourage more people with disabilities to train in a sport, so they can show the potential of the disabled on the international stage.

“As president of the federation, I urge the whole world to end discrimination against people with disabilities,” he said.

“If a disabled athlete wins a gold medal in any sport, there will be no more social discrimination. He or she will have a good image and will have contributed to the promotion of national sports and the image of the country. This is encouraging for all people who are living with disabilities,” he added.

During a July 6 meeting with the Paralympic delegates at the Peace Palace, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that his chairmanship of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia was aimed at promoting and encouraging people with disabilities and gave hope to the disabled people of Cambodia.

“Why am I president? Because I want to encourage and bring hope to all Cambodians with disabilities. I am also a disabled person,” he added.

The premier said he was living proof that people with disabilities were capable of achieving great things.

Focusing on himself, he said: “People with disabilities have the ability to become prime minister, and not just for a one or two-year term. I encourage those with disabilities to follow my example and participate in society as much as they can.”

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