The past weekend has seen the 1st Workshop “Equal Opportunities” take place in Thessaloniki, Greece. The event was kindly supported and organized by the FIDE DIS Commission, ECU and the Hellenic Sport Association for Persons with Disabilities. The 3-day workshop saw presentations held with a specific focus on what Arbiters, Organisers, and Trainers need to be aware of when dealing with disabled players in mainstream tournaments. These prompted some great discussion and have given all participants food for thought on how they can make a difference to players with impairments.
On the second day, the participants were welcomed by Voula Patoulidou (pictured below), former Greek hurdle gold medallist on behalf of the city of Thessaloniki; Thomai Thodoraki, representing the Hellenic Sport Federation for Persons with Disabilities; Zurab Azmaiparashvili, President of the ECU; and Sonja Johnson, secretary of the Planning and Development Commission. Each of them highlighted their roles and excitement at the prospect of giving people of all abilities a chance to participate in events and get the support they require.
During the second half of the morning, keynote speakers gave accounts of their involvement in various projects to help raise awareness of the challenges of people with impairments in sport. Dimitrios Patatoukas spoke from a medical point of view and highlighted issues around the accessibility of playing venues for all types of sports. Thomas Luther (pictured below) and Dora Martinez spoke about the impact of the World Junior Chess Championship for the Disabled on the young participants and how the coverage of the tournament by CNN has required dedication from the organizers. They also shared details for other projects the commission has planned.
The afternoon brought some interesting discussion which gave everyone a chance to reflect on what had been spoken. It also provided plenty of food for thought on how differences can be made through little changes and the engagement of individuals. This workshop has provided all participants with a much more in-depth knowledge and understanding and taken away some of the fear around the topic. Whilst there still is a lot of work to do every little step helps in raising awareness and highlights how vital it is to include everyone.
At the end of the workshop, all participants were presented with a certificate by DIS Chairman GM Thomas Luther.
Please contact the Commission if you are interested in this concept and would like to host this workshop.