Inspired by London 2012: Azerbaijan's new framework for disability sportSubscribe
UK Sport International 10 July 2012
With only 50 days left until the Paralympic Games, find out how International Inspiration, the legacy programme of London 2012, has inspired the formation and registration of the first not-for-profit organisation using sport as a tool for holistic development.
The three year legacy programme of London 2012 was implemented by Ministries Youth and Sport, Education in partnership with UK Sport, British Council and UNICEF through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2007.
Reforming legal rights to sport
The programme was supported by the Azerbaijan National Olympic Committee (NOC), National Paralympics Committee (NPC), Football Association, the Athletics Federation, and Special Olympics. During the three year programme, Azerbaijan authorities were inspired to revise their sport law and develop a national Physical Education and Sport Strategy making sport a legal right and widening opportunities for every child and young person to participate.
The International Inspiration progamme was officially handed over to national partners in May 2010 by Sir Phillip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee. National partners thereafter facilitated the formation of Sport4Development to continue delivery of what they call national inspiration, inspired by London 2012.
Operating from the offices of the National Olympic Committee in Baku, the small organisation is implementing a three phased programme to address some of the country’s marginalised populations, children and young people in particular.
TOPS methodology and materials
Using the TOPS teaching methodology, based on coloured resource cards designed for non-specialist teachers where there is little or no conventional sports equipment, newly trained teachers delivered the International Inspiration programme to disabled children who had been excluded or without access to sport or recreational activities.
Changing social perceptions
Mehman Karimov, who coordinated the International Inspiration programme in Azerbaijan on behalf of UK Sport is now the Chief Executive Officer of Sport4Development. He describes the impact these integrated sports festivals has on participants:
“When the disabled learners came to the arena to meet the able-bodies athletes, both teams were very emotional. Many of the disabled learners had never been exposed to sport - they did not know what to do and the able bodied athletes began to cry because they had never seen children with such severe mental and physical abilities playing sport in their sporting environment. Some began to cry, and for the able bodied athletes, they did not know how to react. But after TOPS Tutors trained the children, they came together to play.”
The impact in Azerbaijan
Between handing over of the programme to national partners in 2010 and present day, over 100 teachers from 5 special institutions have been trained in TOPs methodology and more than 1,000 children have benefitted. By April 2012, 3,000 children were exposed to TOPs methodology through their Physical Education lessons in school.
Now 5 non-profit organisations in Azerbaijan have incorporated sport into their programming and share 7 projects between them.
To celebrate the achievements of International Inspiration, Former British Olympian Colin Jackson, Trustee of charity International Development through Sport, David Davies and UK Sport International Inspiration Senior Advisor Elias Musangeya, visited Azerbaijan, thanks to the support of BP Azerbaijan.
“To see Azerbaijan continue the legacy of London 2012 is an inspiration to us all. The work that has been done to ensure disabled learners have access to sport and to see this improve the lives of thousands reaffirms the aims of the International Inspiration programme.” said Elias.
Azerbaijan have now formed links with Turkey, to share child-centred coaching knowledge and techniques further deepen interventions on disabled sport by inspiring and coaching more children with disabilities to choose and develop through the power of sport and PE.