In the wake of the Games, France faces the challenge of accessibility to para-sports

Elie Patrigeon, the director general of the French Paralympic and Sports Committee (CPESF), returned from the Tokyo Games all smiles. With 54 podiums, including 11 gold medals, the goal of reaching 35 medals has been greatly exceeded. But he measures with lucidity the work that awaits France to guarantee access to para-sports practice throughout the territory. “Overall, our regional analyzes show us that this access remains difficult, in particular for people with severe disabilities”, he notes.

Multiple brakes

The media exposure of the Paralympic Games does not generate ” inevitably an influx into the clubs », He regrets. ” The facts are there: the chain which leads to the practice of sport is longer and more complex than for the able-bodied. “Not all clubs are able to accommodate these licensees, while few supervisors have received appropriate training.

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In addition to these obstacles, there is the problem of equipment and the taking into account of logistics and transport issues which discourage some managers: ” All this contributes to the exclusion of people with disabilities, who do not all know that they can play sports. “, Advances the leader.

To remedy this, since 2019, the French Paralympic and Sports Committee has appointed a Paralympic referent in all regions to promote the development of parasportive practice. For its part, a “para-welcoming club” project invites volunteer clubs to think about setting up an organization that “ bring mixed and different practices to life within the same establishment “, for ” go find actors with whom we worked little until now “.

More and more initiatives

This policy is starting to bear fruit. Some federations, such as the FFJ (French Judo Federation), are mobilizing themselves without sparing their efforts. Associations and local communities too. Within the framework of the “ENMS X club” project, clubs have, for example, joined forces with medico-social establishments, in order to diversify the sports disciplines open to the beneficiaries of these structures. Launched in December 2020, this project has resulted in more than 80 initiatives in France, particularly in Île-de-France or in Hauts-de-France. In the same spirit, the Departmental Handisport Committee of Finistère offers a wide range of outdoor sports.

→ MAINTENANCE. Paralympic Games: “Let’s show that disabled athletes exist and perform well”

Other regions have developed very different “decompartmentalization” strategies. Thus, in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, the regional disabled sports committee has set up a platform for loaning materials and equipment, often extremely expensive such as the wheelchairs needed to practice certain team sports (basketball, handball or wheelchair rugby) or individual (athletics, racket sports). Finally, set up in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the DAHLIR (Human support system towards integrated and regular leisure activities), is “ an associative device, a little outside the sports movement, which aims to network all the players in the chain “. For Elie Patrigeon, “ the story has only just begun, but we have the wind in our sails “.


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