The International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (INAS) will target potential athletes through a new campaign which aims to attract more women into sport.
#WeAreSport will recruit up to 20 current athletes to receive training in traditional and digital media techniques. This will help them to raise their profile and cement their place as role models for the next generation.
The same number of administrators from INAS member organisations will also be given resources and support to enable them to champion women in sport in their countries.
It is hoped that the activities of these ‘Sport Champions’ will lead to more women and girls trying sport and ultimately becoming elite athletes.
“We know from participation across the 14 sports on our programme that female athletes are underrepresented,” Robyn Smith, INAS Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Sport Inclusion Australia who are co-funding the project, said.
“This is not unique to any particular sport or part of the world, but is a challenge faced by almost everyone in all regions.
“At the Paralympic level there were four countries who finished in the top 10 in the medals table that entered less women than men with intellectual impairments to Rio 2016.
“At the grassroots women and girls with intellectual impairments can lack the confidence to try sport much more than their male counterparts. Awareness of sport specifically for this group is also still developing.
“We want to help showcase athletes who have not just overcome the same challenges, but have excelled on the global stage. And then we want to help build the structures and expertise so others can do the same.”
The first activities for #WeAreSport will take place in early 2018 with a s Fountraining webinar for the 40 athletes and administrators. Each athlete will also receive a specially designed media pack containing their biography, pictures and graphics they can share on social media.
The administrators will be given materials and guidance to help them attract female athletes to try sports. As part of their commitment they will deliver at least one development workshop in their country for women and girls.
The project will mainly focus on Asia, Oceania and Africa but athletes and personnel from other regions will also be included.
Activities will climax on the 2018 International Day of Sport for Athletes with an Intellectual Impairment which will carry the #WeAreSport theme.
#WeAreSport is supported by a grant from the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee.