Shiam Jerome

If we don’t attempt to make the change now, then when?

I have always been a sports enthusiast and what got me interested in starting this movement was an incident that happened a couple of years before 2015. My brother is a Physio and was attached to a Para-Sport (can’t remember which sport) as they were leaving for an overseas trip. There was only the coach, manager and himself accompanying the team of athletes who were heavily dependent. This led me to find out more regarding the Para-Sport scene and realised how little I knew. If I knew so little, I would need to raise awareness to educate more people about Para-Sports and the disability scene.

One life-changing experience that I’d like to share would be the initial stage when I had an opportunity to join Goalball for training. A simple training that changed my life. Goalball is played by people who are visually impaired and the aim of the game is to defend your goal while the opponent throws the ball. There was a moment during the training I scored and removed my eye-shades only to realise the significance of that action. At that very moment, everything made sense to me on what I needed to do and achieve.

I have noticed a significant change in the para-sport scene since 2015. There have been much more media attention and government initiatives since 2015. There is still a long way to go, but it is definitely the right step forward. What drives me to keep advocating for this movement are the athletes who sacrifice so much behind the scenes. The potential of what we can achieve as a nation in the disability scene. If we don’t attempt to make the change now, then when? These are the things that keep me driven.

I have had many people telling me that they did not know Para-Sports exist. A simple example would be how many of us would be able to guide a blind man across the road with confidence? This is why Para-Sports is a perfect tool to raise awareness for the disability scene in Singapore. The only disability to me is ignorance. Hence, I would say discrimination is a very strong word. More like misunderstanding due to the lack of education and awareness.

I don’t exactly know what brings out the best in me but I know I have certain fears. To see something fail and knowing I did nothing to stop it is something that eats me from the inside. I always try to identify how I can complement and play a positive role in the change. To not just watch but try to act on the situation would probably be what brings out the best in me. I am very thankful for failing. It provides me with a steep learning curve that allows me to do better in the next project I execute. The ability to juggle my organisation and my day job together with other commitments is definitely a privilege.
Shiam Jerome