The beginning of a reflective journey

Starting university research on a topic I have been so close to for many years is an interesting journey. During lockdown I was able to use this enforced time at home to read lots and lots of articles about disability sport. What is interesting is the increasing number of academics who are recognising this is an area worth of consideration. More and more research is being undertaken on disability sport and on children and young people.

Reflecting on this research is part of the process. Read, consider, critic and reflect. In reflecting on my experiences and what the research is saying is leading me to reconsider how we have been doing things here in New Zealand. We have a great country which is sport mad. People say sport is in our DNA. This is so true. We also have a country which is pretty open and welcoming. We are not as constrained as other countries by cultural mores which restrict sectors of society, but we still have a long way to go.

In terms of the sports system, should all sport be equal and considered in the same way? We are fully aware and accept individual and team sports require different considerations, and female-dominated sport and male-dominated sports have different priorities and pathways. So should “disability sport” be separate or the same? Isn’t sport just sport? I’m not sure if sports funders, governors and managers know how to address disability sport. Perhaps this is because just like our “team of five million”, disability sport as a collective noun is attempting to represent a dynamic and diverse, constantly changing population with a range of dreams and aspirations.

One of our biggest issues with progressing disability sport is getting young people with impairments into sport. How can this be done in a manner which provides opportunities which are positive and are quality experiences? I hope to find this out through my research. I have no answers, just questions. Lots of questions.

At some stage I will have to ask myself some hard questions. Working in the sector, does that mean I am perpetuating the status quo or creating solutions? Is what I am doing right or wrong? Are I am part of the problem? Hard but probably necessary, just not yet. That will be further along my journey. But for now, more reading, more considering and more critiquing. Fortunate I guess, spring’s unpredictable weather lends itself to staying inside and working…. summer, well that’s another story!

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