Student Olympics for disabled in Zánka

From Thursday the Hungarian National Student and Leisure Sport Association for the Disabled (FODISZ) will hold a national Youth and Student Olympics event at the New Generation Centre in Zánka, with the participation of some 800 young people with special needs. Participants will compete in football, athletics, handball and beach volleyball, with finals to be held on Saturday in various groups according to age and disability.

"The best way for us to help students living with disabilities is to make their living conditions and problems generally known. If we do this, then we can have confidence that the majority in society will understand and want to help so that as many students with special needs as possible can enjoy their right under the Constitution to enjoy sport and exercise," declared László Szabó, the president of FODISZ, at a press conference on Wednesday.

Hungarian footballer Roland Juhász, who has 76 caps for his country, said that he is happy to participate to help as many young people as possible, including those living with disabilities, to start taking part in sports – whether this means football or any other sport.

"FODISZ’s efforts to popularize football and other sports among young people can prove helpful for Hungarian sport as a whole," he added.

Pál Szekeres, the undersecretary responsible for sport at the Ministry of Human Resources, promised FODISZ that the government is ready to assist any programme which involves an increasing number of handicapped young people in the networks of competitive sport.

"I’ll never forget when I met children at a student Paralympics event who were getting three regular meals a day at a competition for the first time in ages, with medals hanging around their necks and a look of joy on their faces. This means more than anything," said Szekeres.

It was also announced at the press conference that the Hungarian Cricket Association is signing a strategic cooperation agreement with FODISZ and will give a demonstration of the sport on Sunday morning with the disabled students.

Gábor Toponáry, managing president of FODISZ, outlined the schedule of the Zánka event in detail and emphasized that, in cooperation with the Department of Sport Physiology at the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences of Semmelweis University, trial physical assessments of handicapped young students will begin at the event with the goal of acquiring experiences in the field.

László Szabó revealed that some 80,000 students with special needs currently study in the Hungarian public education system, and of these FODISZ currently involves approximately 8,500 in its competitive network.

"We want to approach every student and PE teacher. We will not rest until we have guaranteed every student living with a disability the chance to take part in sports," stressed the FODISZ president.