The benefits of playing sports do not end in achieving good health. It can change lives for the better, as proven by these athletes.
Truly, the benefits of playing sports are very significant for the community we foster at Special Olympics Pilipinas. Competitive sports can be a channel that gives people with intellectual disabilities a chance to showcase their talents and physical prowess. However, these are not the only perks they enjoy.
In this article, we will talk about the advantages of team sports, and how they can change the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Learn the Benefits of Playing Sports
The benefits of playing sports do not end in achieving good health. Four athletes from Special Olympics Pilipinas share how sports have changed their lives for the better.
Sports create social connections and build identity.
Studies have long proven that sports give children with intellectual disabilities an outlet to forge a stronger sense of self and negotiate their identities. By providing activities where they can experience social inclusion, they can resist challenges and limitations that are sometimes placed upon them.
Marlon Tindoc, a powerlifting participant at the Special Olympics World Games back in 2019, is proof of this. When asked what he likes the most about participating in competitive sports, he shares: “Nakakalaro ako sa iba’t-ibang lugar kasama mga teammates ko. Pinapalakpakan kami ng mga tao. Madami kaming nakilala na bagong kaibigan kaya nadama ko na importante kami.”
(“I am able to play sports in different countries alongside my teammates. People cheer for us. We get to make several new friends. That has made me feel valued.”)
It helps boost mood and other mental functions.
Another one of the many benefits of playing sports for people with intellectual disabilities is the mental gains that they can get from it. Physical activity, for example, can generally improve the mood state of an individual. It can also reduce depression and anxiety. The type of focus that sports also reduces absenteeism and enhances the productivity of athletes.
Henry Munarriz, who also participated in the Special Olympics World Games, shares his insights in a viral Humans of New York Post. During his stint at the 2019 gathering, Henry led the powerlifting team by making sure that everyone knows where to focus. “It’s important as a leader to always listen to your team,” he says. “We decided together that friendship is more important than winning.”
It makes the strong stronger.
Of course, we cannot forget about the physical benefits of playing sports. Physical activities have been proven to help improve the cardiovascular fitness, weight, balance, and strength of people with intellectual disabilities. These are the exact aspirations of Alexander Soriano and Patty Ildesa who both want to become better athletes. After both competing in bowling at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, they decided to train more in order to push themselves. Soon, they hope to physically achieve greater things in their chosen sporting fields.
Alexander shares, “I want to reach the level of being a professional bowler and a bowling coach. I also want to become a World Cup Bowling Champion one day.” Patty, on the other hand, has taken on another sport, badminton. She has been training rigorously in hopes of being able to represent the country in the next World Games. She says, “I am working to improve on my badminton game. I want to be able to qualify in competitions.”
Join Us in Changing Lives with the Benefits of Playing Sports
There is no question that the benefits of playing sports have an indelible impact on those who play. This is something that the Special Olympics Pilipinas has been set on ever since we first brought the global movement to local shores. We are a volunteer group that gathers people with intellectual disabilities. We hold regular sporting clinics across sports like basketball, powerlifting, swimming, and even cheerleading. Through this, we hope to touch the lives of people who are part of this community.
In 2023, our group will be sending a new batch of athletes to the Special Olympics World Games which will be held in Berlin. This is yet to become the organization’s next biggest milestone and we need your help to make this happen.
Make the first step in making this world a more accommodating place for people with intellectual disabilities. Learn more about the work we do at Special Olympics Pilipinas and get involved today.