An enormous placard at Phnom Penh’s Old Stadium read “Your Attitude is My Disability” as the seventh annual Cambodian Handi-Sport Day commenced Monday in conjunction with Cambodia’s observance of the International Day for the Day for Disabled Persons.
Though this is only the third year that Cambodia has participated in the event, Monday marked the 19th year the day has been observed worldwide.
The two-day competition features volleyball, target shooting, wheelchair racing, lawn bowling and foot races .
As part of the celebration, there were art and photographic exhibitions, concert performances and information booths, all organized by disabled persons.
“There are arts and cultural performances, exhibitions, traditional games and dances and people [who] will tell stories about their disabilities,” said Ouk Sisovann, executive director of the Disability Action Council, which is organizing the event.
“Professional singers have been invited, souvenirs will be sold and there will be medals for winners,” Ouk Sisovann said.
In the past, Handi-Sport Day has been held in June, but this year the two events were consolidated.
The events were “jointly organized this year because the government suggested that [we do so],” Ouk Sisovann said.
“You know we lack the resources financially and there are time constraints,” he said.
Handi-Sports Day will be smaller this year, he added, but International Day for Disabled Persons will be as big as ever.
Kicking off the day’s athletic competitions was a volleyball tournament featuring 24 NGO-sponsored teams. Vong At, who played for a team sponsored by the NGO Action on Disability and Development, said he was enjoying himself, even though his team had lost its first match.
“This was our first time playing,” he said. “We had no practice and no equipment, but we are very happy.”
Vong At is a former RCAF soldier who was injured when a mortar round exploded in his hand. Other members of his team include another former soldier who lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine, and a man who suffers from polio.
ADD and other sponsors traveled into the provinces recruiting athletes and grouping them according to their level of disability.
There are 45 NGOs supporting the event and providing material and financial support, said Ouk Sisovann.
The Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs also took part in the planning.