Oscar lends hand in Tanzania

2011-11-23 16:04

Arusha - South African athlete and Laureus Ambassador Oscar Pistorius, the man known as the "Blade Runner", has headed a Laureus Sport for Good Foundation visit to Tanzania to launch a ground-breaking new partnership with International Inspiration, the worldwide legacy programme of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

He joined Dioniz Malinzi, Chairman of the National Sports Council for Tanzania, at the International Inspiration project in Arusha, that is being supported by Laureus and which aims to engage young people from Tanzania with a package of sports-based activities, mentoring support and life skills education.

Oscar was born with a congenital absence of the fibula and his legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. Now he runs with the aid of carbon fibre blades.

In August, in Daegu, South Korea, he became the first amputee to win a non-disabled World Championship track medal, as a member of the South African silver medal winning 4 x 400 metres relay team. He also reached the semi-finals of the individual 400 metres.

He said: “Sport can make a difference to everyone’s lives at all levels. It can give purpose and direction. It certainly did for me when I found myself in challenging circumstances and I am sure it can be of massive benefit to young people in Tanzania. It’s great that Laureus is supporting the work of London 2012 and International Inspiration and I am delighted to be in Arusha to do what I can to show my backing for this great idea.”

Malinzi said: “With Laureus and International Inspiration we have young people coming together in collaboration to play sports with other people. Now, these young people instead or getting into drugs, are coming here to play.”

The visit which took place at the stadium in Arusha featured exhibitions of International Inspiration activities in Tanzania, including athletics for young people, women’s football and volleyball competitions.

The sessions were led by instructors who have benefited from Laureus-supported training programmes. After the official launch of the partnership between Laureus and the II Foundation, Oscar Pistorius gave a motivational talk to the young people present.

In Tanzania, Oscar was also announced as the latest International Inspiration Ambassador, joining other athletes such as Tanni Grey-Thompson, David Beckham, Colin Jackson, Chris Hoy and Denise Lewis.

The project is part of International Inspiration, London 2012’s international sports legacy programme, which is enriching the lives of young people around the world through the power of high quality and inclusive sport, physical education and play.

International Inspiration’s global target is to enrich the lives of 12 million children in 20 countries through the use of sport.

International Inspiration was developed from the London 2012 Bid’s promise to reach young people all around the world through sport and connect them to the inspirational power of the Olympic Games.

Tanzania’s current social problems include a tragically high rate of mortality in the young due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and malaria and worrying drop-out rates in schools, where many children spend as little as five years in the classroom. This has resulted in many people becoming trapped in a low-skilled, low-income environment.

With the Tanzanian Government recently re-introducing PE and sport in schools and the launch of a national sport strategy, the opportunity now exists to put in place this programme which will train teachers, provide facilities and resources for sport in schools and the community and strengthen leadership, coaching and administration in sports governing bodies and clubs.

International Inspiration Tanzania, supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, will initially be focused on Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Mwaza and Sangea and will work in collaboration with local authorities and communities.