Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities

As many tourists and residents of Pattaya were preparing to participate in the annual King’s Cup Pattaya Marathon, another, yet smaller sporting competition was taking place at a school just off Sukhumvit Road.

Each July the students from the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities hold a two day sporting event which see the students divided into four teams and competing in a variety of sports, including athletics, swimming, wheelchair basketball, sit-down volleyball, wheelchair tennis, boccia and petanque.

All students are expected to take part in at least one sport and for many new students it may be the very first time they have ever participated in a sporting event.

Prior to joining the school many students have never entered a swimming pool, yet they learn to swim for the good of their team. Other female students learn to use a wheelchair to ensure there are enough players in the wheelchair basketball team competition.

Friendships are put on hold as pals compete with each other to gain as many points as they can for their team, and each team wants to win the trophy for having the loudest supporters.

The school has a very long tradition of sport and at the London Paralympics 2012, eight out of the fifty Thai athletes who took part were former students at the Pattaya school. One came home with a gold medal from the boccia competition while a former teacher won a silver medal in the 4x100m wheelchair race; this silver medal bring his total Paralympic medal tally to nine after winning four gold, three silver and one bronze medal at the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and the Beijing 2008 Games.

Students regularly take part in local, national and international sporting competition and it gives them much more than a chance to win a medal. It gives the students a sense of belonging when they are part of a team and a sense of achievement when they win.

Watching sports for the disabled may not be everyone’s preferred viewing, but the vocational school in Pattaya is where sporting legends are made.

IMG_9850_resize IMG_9473_resize IMG_9479_resize IMG_9483_resize IMG_9489_resize IMG_9515_resize IMG_9536_resize IMG_9545_resize IMG_9588_resize IMG_9618_resize IMG_9638_resize IMG_9648_resize IMG_9674_resize IMG_9681_resize IMG_9682_resize IMG_9718_resize IMG_9730_resize IMG_9739_resize IMG_9741_resize IMG_9773_resize IMG_9779_resize IMG_9785_resize IMG_9789_resize IMG_9802_resize IMG_9805_resize IMG_9830_resize IMG_9837_resize