Is having everything an advantage? Or is lacking something a greater advantage?
We are down to the last month of the year, and just recently, we had our intramural games. Although we do not want to be judgmental, there are times when we would often consider a person’s physical appearance as a basis for performance—especially if we haven’t seen them play in the field. We conjure up expressions such as, “I think he’s going to be good in soccer because he’s half American.” Or possibly, “I think their team will win because they look stronger and faster than the other team.” But there are people, not minding how they look, that can greatly amaze us with their exceptional talent.
We may not have this kind of competition in our university, but it exists in our country and on the global scale as well—a sports competition for persons with disabilities (PWDs). Yes, PWDs are also athletic and are exceptionally good in sports. The lack of a body part or body function seems like a disadvantage, but they are just as competitive as any other player. If you are not convinced, allow me to delve into the story of the first amputee swimmer in Palarong Pambansa, Jomar Maalam.
An athlete from Zamboanga del Sur and born without legs, Jomar proves that having a disability is not a barrier from achieving what seems impossible at first. There were struggles, but he never gave up. He believes in what he can do, and he works hard on it. He even joined a triathlon in Cebu last August 2015! He did not make his disability as an excuse not to achieve the dream that he always wanted.
The road was not easy for him; it was inevitable that some people would mock his disability. But Jomar remained strong. He didn’t even care. It was what God gave him, and he’s okay with it.
A good build might just add an appeal to a player, but it does not limit the capacity of other players in any competition. Just as how the theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (which is celebrated every December 3) promotes a more inclusive and equitable world for PWDs, we should learn that real power comes from what someone can do and not by what he or she has.
Sports are for champions. A true champion is not born, but they are shaped—by their struggles, downfalls, and victories. The real advantage relies on character, and not by having or lacking something. PWD or not, sports are for everyone.