Turning around university paralympics in Zimbabwe
Keywords:Physically challenged, mainstream sport, inclusivity, assistive technology.
This study establishes the challenges in the implementation of sports programmes for physically challenged students in Zimbabwean universities and ways of turning around these games. A mixed methods approach was used. The research design was a survey. The target population was the physically challenged students and sports managers in universities, including Sports Directors. For the survey, the purposive sampling technique was used while for interview respondents, the researcher adopted the judgemental sampling technique. Quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences and excel while thematic data presentation and analysis was done for qualitative data. Data presentation was done using tables, figures and themes. The key findings are that there are several challenges in the implementation of sports programmes for physically challenged athletes in universities in Zimbabwe. Running university Paralympics was found to be more complex and expensive than the mainstream university sports programmes leading to a number of challenges. In order to turn around university Paralympics in Zimbabwe, technically qualified officials from the National Paralympics Committee should be consulted during the planning and managing of sports programmes for the physically challenged athletes. The investment was necessary for the acquisition of adapted sports equipment and sports facilities for use by the physically challenged athletes. The use of emerging technologies in training and managing sports programmes was found to be quite critical in turning around the university paralympics in Zimbabwe. In addition, there is a need to widen the sports programmes, and enacting policies that will make it possible to develop university Paralympics.