A highly successful partnership is developing between Special Olympics and a local disability group in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Together, the Special Olympics National Program and OAZA pooled their resources to organize a sports competition for more than 400 Special Olympics athletes. The event took place in Sarajevo from 4-7 October, 2012.
Special Olympics athletes, who represented close to 30 institutions and special schools in the country, as well as guest teams from Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, competed in aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, football and table tennis. Twenty-three athletes participated in the Motor Activity Training Program (MATP). MATP is designed to prepare athletes with severe or profound intellectual disability, including athletes with significant physical disabilities, for sport-specific activities appropriate for their abilities.
The Games were funded through an initiative that OAZA has with SHIA, a network of Swedish disability groups that is funded by SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and FIFH Malmo, a Swedish disability sports organization. Special Olympics Bosnia and Herzegovina provided the technical expertise for the competition.
Almost 500 spectators, many of them family members, crowded into the bleachers of a local sports center to watch the Opening Ceremony. Guests included representatives of the Canton of Sarajevo and the ambassadors from Switzerland and France. Throughout the Opening Ceremonies, Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were displayed on a large screen. Bosnia and Herzegovina ratified the Convention in 2009
“We greatly appreciate the cooperation we have with OAZA and believe that by working together we can further advance the needs and rights of persons with disabilities so the spirit and the principles of the Convention become a reality,” said Kada Delic-Selimovic, National Director, Special Olympics Bosnia and Herzegovina.