The Oceania Paralympic Committee (OPC) is moving its head office to Australia to ensure it capitalises on the opportunity of Brisbane hosting the 2032 Paralympic Games.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the OPC and Griffith University, based in South East Queensland, for them to re-locate themselves to the Gold Coast.
Griffith University’s director of Games engagement and partnerships Caroline Riot revealed that the agreement aims to increase participation and opportunities for Paralympic athletes.
Among the things the two organisations plan to work on together is international relations and partnership, visibility, reputation and branding and research and Innovation.
It will also include education and training, advocacy and community engagement and participation.
“Griffith is partnering with the OPC to support governance and development work, ensuring all athletes and coaches have a sport pathway, classification, talent identification and development opportunity that paves the way for performance excellence,” Riot said.
The OPC is currently based in Fiji’s capital Suva.
“This MoU solidifies our relationship and will help us deliver an evidence-based research and insight-led approach towards equality for people with a disability living within Oceania,” OPC President Paul Bird said.
Riot recently returned from a trip with the OPC to Palau in the Pacific, having been invited to support the programme delivery of the country’s first National Paralympic Committee (NPC).
It is one of eight of the 17 countries and territories in the Pacific that do currently not yet have an NPC.
“I was fortunate to work with the OPC on-the-ground in Palau, holding conversations to encourage engagement with national sport federations, celebrate local sport success, and identify and develop the talent of young people,” Riot said.
Following interactions with the OPC and Griffith University, Palauan senior student and athlete Koko is now considering studying at Griffith and hopes to qualify for the Paralympics in Paris next year.
“The opportunities that lie ahead because of this partnership will open up disability and inclusion conversations and action across the region and will work to engage our local communities and experts in ways that strengthen the region and deliver strong legacies arising from the Brisbane 2032 Games,” Riot added.
A central office space at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus will support the joint delivery of world-class programmes, sporting, coaching and research initiatives, it is promised.
“Griffith already has long-standing relationships in the Oceania region, is recognised as Australia’s leading university for high-performance sports, and has a growing profile in accessibility,” Peter Binks, the University’s vice-president of industry and external engagement, said.
“Working alongside OPC gives us a much stronger platform for using these strengths, we have been very impressed by OPC’s leadership at all levels, and their vision for finding and supporting the ‘hidden people’ of Oceania.”
The partnership will be underpinned by widespread support from Griffith’s leading researchers and groups.
“The OPC has the stated ambition to fly 17 flags at the Brisbane 2032 Games and to ensure every country of Oceania is represented,” Riot said.
“Griffith is working with OPC hand-in-hand to strengthen and revitalise National Paralympic Committees in the region, and building Paralympic Committees in countries that don’t have one,” Riot said.
SOURCE: INSIDE THE GAMES/PACNEWS