Pictured (left to right): Linda Pulsan, Inclusive GymBad session, Nelly Leva
Every year on March 8, the United Nations celebrates International Women’s Day. This year, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge – which aims to bring awareness to our individual thoughts, actions and ability to choose, challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.
We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. Only by ‘challenging’ will we create ‘change’ – United Nations.
Last week, the new ‘Team Up’ initiative launched, which is Australia’s new sport for development program in Asia-Pacific – supported by the Australian Government. ‘Inclusive GymBad’ is one of seven Team Up programs taking place in Papua New Guinea, which focuses on increasing participation and awareness among disability players and women, this is a fine example of an initiative which is choosing to challenge.
Badminton Oceania are leading on the program, working in partnership with Badminton Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea Gymnastics Federation, Oceania Gymnastics Union and Motivation Australia. By modifying the fundamental skills of badminton and gymnastics to suit all abilities, this program removes or reduces the barriers experienced by people with a disability, particularly women and girls, to participate equally.
Linda Pulsan, a powerlifting gold medalist at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, is one of the key leaders of the programme, bringing her empathy and guidance as a mother, athlete, coach and role model to the sports hall to inspire participants.
Meanwhile, Paralympian-to-be (having qualified for Javelin at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games), Nelly Leva, is a regular participant of the GymBad programme – which was the route to her first ever international badminton tournament last year as she competed in the VICTOR Oceania Para Badminton Championships 2020.
The inspiring women shared their thoughts on their abilities to #ChooseToChallenge and the impact they hope to have through ‘Inclusive GymBad’:
What does the phrase ‘Choose To Challenge’ mean to you?
“To me it means, I would want to be best out of the competition. Challenging would be the best experience to win or lose, so I would do my best to overcome the challenges. I want to have that commitment, dedication and friendship to experience the good challenge with my team mates”, says Nelly Leva
“As a mother, an athlete, a coach and as a role model of sports, to me it basically means it is anyone’s ability and determination to stand up for women and girls with disabilities in ensuring that they should be treated equally despite of their disabilities and believe that they can also do anything possible”, says Pulsan
Inclusive GymBad chooses to challenge the barriers experienced by people with a disability, particularly women and girls, to participate equally. Why do you want to be part of GymBad and how do you plan to ‘Challenge’?
“I purposely want to be part of GymBad because I love the settings and activities of the programs, the arrangements are also very attractive that draws interests. It is fun and energizing to play the sport. My plan to challenge is that I would be the best out of the players, focus on my aims and goals when I challenge to make a difference from my previous competition.”, says Nelly
“I want to be part of GymBad, because it is an educational program whereby, I can participate with people with disabilities, educate and help bring them together and also enforce the idea that they can do anything despite of their disabilities. I plan to challenge the societies views towards people with disabilities that are unable and cannot do anything and prove to them that despite their disabilities, they can and are still able to do something with their lives and be productive members of the society”