Anybody that says this isn’t great sport, doesn’t understand sport.
By Tom Jamison
You can watch as much of the sport at the SOGB National Games currently taking place in Sheffield, for as long as you like, but you’ll see no dives, no pouting and certainly no vein-pumping confrontations with officials. This is Special Olympics sport, played for the passion and for the sake of playing. This is the raw uncut version of sport that you might’ve forgotten the taste of.
Whilst watching the basketball yesterday (Wednesday) at All Saints Sports Centre in Sheffield, what was clear was the true ambition within the teams to win but not at ‘all costs’ and that the ‘playing’ side of sports had not been allowed to fade.
SOGB continues to campaign for sporting opportunities for learning (intellectual) disabled people. Within this process they’re also careful to make sure that everyone gets their part to play. The new three-on-three basketball format is a great example of how SOGB are taking familiar sports and adapting them to suit their athletes. The new format is played on half a court, using one hoop and has been specifically developed for girls. In mixed matches or games where one talented player can dominate, other players can sometimes get lost within the game; the miniature court and tight teamwork required enables everyone to take a more dynamic role.
Moving forward it also means that SOGB is presenting a new format to the World Special Olympics movement which may mean more slots become available for British athletes at European and World events.
You might think that the inevitable bumps and scrapes of six players within a half court space would generate moments of confrontation but not a bit of it. The will to win was never lacking but I didn’t even spot a recriminating glance for a poor pass, just handshakes and high fives, irrespective of the victor.