By Michael Pavitt
Serbia have set up a new Para-Swimming Association as a consequence of training and support by from the Agitos Foundation.
Alongside the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Academy, the Agitos Foundation delivered the Organisational Capacity Programme (OCP), a two-year scheme aiming to give National Paralympic Committee's training opportunities, enabling them to deliver workshops and improve para-sport in their own countries.
Following an OCP training session in February 2014, attended by Serbian National Paralympic Committee (NPC) member Bojan Jacimovic, a workshop was held in the Serbian capital Belgrade to introduce athletes and volunteers to the aims of the OCP.
The workshop resulted in a decision to bring together swimming clubs who have Para-swimming programmes under a sole national organisation.
Additionally, several centres of excellence for Paralympic swimming being developed across the country, with a total of 70 athletes attending clubs in Kragujavac, Nis, Novisad and the capital Belgrade.
"My aim was to introduce full spectrum of issues regarding Paralympic organisations in order to raise awareness of the participants about the complexity of the Paralympic Movement and about the opportunities for improvement for our Movement and for their organisations," said Jacimovic.
The Serbian NPC have already seen an increase in participation in Alpine skiing through training camps and they have also worked with the national archery association to achieve international classifications for 16 of their athletes.
A second OCP workshop, including representatives from the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social affairs, looked at developing a strategic plan for the NPC and looking into ways in which Para-sport could be integrated into the 2014 to 2018 Strategy of Serbian Sport.
The OCP programme has already resulted in countries such a Cape Verde and the Soloman Islands attempt to spread the Paralympic message across their nations, with the next edition of the OCP set to take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from April 18 to 21.
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