More unified partners at Play Inclusive 2023
Play Inclusive, Singapore’s biggest unified sport competition will have more than 650 athletes with disabilities and their Unified Partners (UP), players without disabilities, taking part in its sixth edition. Held over two days, on 26 August and 16 September 2023, Play Inclusive 2023 will also see the highest number of organisations taking part as UP – a total of 31 organisations, up from 27 in 2019 – partnering Special Education (SPED) schools and disability centres across six sports. This year, the six sports are Badminton, Basketball, Boccia, Floorball, Football and Goalball.
Play Inclusive 2023 was officially opened by Guest-of-Honour Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development. The first day of competition at OCBC Arena saw about 310 athletes with disabilities playing alongside their UP across four sports - Basketball, Boccia, Floorball and Goalball. About 340 participants are expected to compete on the second day of the competition (16 September) in Badminton and Football.
Athlete Daiyan Aniq Mohammed Faizal, 17-year-old from Delta Senior School together with unified partner Lee Xinyi, 19-year-old from Ngee Ann Polytechnic led in the recitation of the Special Olympics oath – Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt – a demonstration of the uniting power of sports and how persons with disabilities can increase their self-determination and self-worth through friendly competition.
Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang, President of Special Olympics Singapore and Singapore Disability Sports Council, underscored the power of sport in uniting people of all abilities, “The Play Inclusive competition is the culmination of an eight-week training phase between athletes and their Unified Partners. For athletes with disabilities, friendships are formed when they train and play side-by-side with their Unified Partners, who themselves develop empathy, greater sensitivity and understanding of, and respect for persons with disabilities.”
Mr Marcus Tan, Chief of Sport Development Group at Sport Singapore is grateful towards the continued support from Unified Partners. Mr Tan said, “Unified sport encourages shared sporting experiences between persons with and without disabilities to promote inclusion in the community. Through Play Inclusive, participants train and compete alongside one another, building understanding and forging friendships using sport as a common language. With RSVP Singapore The Organisation of Senior Volunteers participation this year, more senior volunteers are also able to take part and make new acquaintances through Play Inclusive. These intergenerational interactions will not only be beneficial for the athletes but also for our seniors, who gain a sense of purpose and fulfilment in contributing to the development of athletes with disabilities.”
Play Inclusive has seen strong support from various stakeholders including schools, corporates and organisations. This year, corporates such as Certis and RSVP Singapore The Organisation of Senior Volunteers, participated in the event for the first time. On its partnership with Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore), Ms Edna Claudine Leong, Executive Director of RSVP Singapore shared, “As a society, we must have the conviction that everyone can contribute to the larger society in which we appreciate and value one another. Through initiatives like Play Inclusive, our senior volunteers get to team up with younger players in boccia and form intergeneration bonds. We believe that seniors can help instil the importance of inclusivity and use the power of sport to bring persons of all abilities together.”
Anglican High School has been teaming up with St Andrew’s Autism School (SAAS) in Unified basketball and badminton in 2019, 2022 and 2023. Mr Alaric Leong, teacher at Anglican High School commented, “I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact of inclusive physical education and sport on our students. Through these activities, students of all abilities come together, gaining a better understanding and appreciation of one another. This is what we are inculcating in our students, to contribute to the larger society where we appreciate each other.”
SAAS teacher, Ms Nurul Baizura Abdul Razak shared, “For students with special needs, the interaction with their partner school peers helps to build their confidence and social skills, contributing to their holistic education. It is heartening to see the commitment to promote inclusive sports by the organisers. These efforts are crucial in creating a more inclusive and accepting society. The Play Inclusive trainings and competition are one of the highlight events of the year for most of our students.”
Play Inclusive 2023 is co-organised by SportCares, Special Olympics Singapore and Singapore Disability Sports Council, with the support of participating schools from the Ministry of Education.