Better Access to Sporting Events

According to a recent study, 40% of individuals with disabilities lack the confidence to participate in sporting events. Out of 700 disabled adults surveyed, one in three feels that sporting events do not adequately cater to their needs, and 56% fear they won’t receive priority treatment. Approximately 17% feel they lack the necessary support network, while 16% are hindered by the cost of participation. An additional 12% perceive a lack of representation in sporting events as a significant barrier, with 54% believing that access to trained volunteers would boost their confidence to engage in mass participation sports. As an NDIS provider on the Gold Coast, this is not good news. We have a lot of clients who enjoy sports, and we do our best to support them.

Sports for All

Engaging in sports is beneficial for individuals of all abilities, transcending physical and mental limitations. Sports promote physical fitness, which is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being, and they offer a platform for individuals with disabilities to build strength, flexibility, and coordination. Beyond the physical benefits, sports foster social inclusion and camaraderie, breaking down barriers and stereotypes while providing opportunities for teamwork and friendship. For people with disabilities, sports can be empowering, boosting self-confidence and self-esteem as they challenge themselves and achieve new milestones. Moreover, the sense of accomplishment gained from participating in sports contributes to a positive mindset and mental resilience. Ultimately, sports offer a universal language of unity and achievement, demonstrating that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can find joy, fulfilment, and personal growth through athletic pursuits.

Nissan Taking the Lead

To encourage greater participation, Nissan GB, the official partner of the Great Run Series responsible for this research is collaborating with The Richard Whitehead Foundation. Together, they aim to enhance the inclusivity of running events by providing support and motivation to disabled participants. Richard Whitehead, a Paralympic gold medalist, marathon runner, and Nissan GB’s diversity, equity, and inclusion ambassador, expressed his commitment to addressing the issue: “Disabled individuals often lack the confidence to participate in sporting events. As a Paralympic athlete and long-distance runner, I believe this is something we should change. Regardless of the race or distance, it’s an opportunity to give back to the running and disability community.”

Study Results Show Work is Needed

The study also revealed that the average disabled adult engages in exercise for just under 76 minutes per week, spread over four sessions. Interestingly, 39% of respondents consider exercise a passion. In terms of preferred sports for testing themselves, swimming ranked highest at 22%, followed by a half marathon at 18%. Other desired activities include grassroots or local football tournaments (17%) and CrossFit events (12%). Notably, two-thirds of disabled individuals believe there is a shortage of televised disability sporting events and 53% call for increased government efforts to promote sporting events for people with disabilities.

Richard Whitehead emphasised the importance of inclusivity in sports: “Sport should be accessible to everyone.” He announced the pilot of the Supported Runner Project at the AJ Bell Great North Run and the AJ Bell Great South Run in October, with a full launch planned for 2024.

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