Benefits and Barriers to Sports Participation for Athletes With Disabilities: The Case of Malaysia

The purpose of this paper was to explore the benefits and barriers influencing participation for athletes with disabilities from a developing country (Malaysia). Two independent studies were undertaken: Study 1 included a sample of 123 athletes (95 males, 28 females) who participated in the 2006 Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled (FESPIC Games); Study 2 involved focus group discussions with 14 elite athletes. The athletes ranged in age from 15 to 59 years. Data were collected through a questionnaire (Study 1) and focus group discussions (Study 2). The primary reasons for participation in sport were achievement/challenge (58%) and competency/Skill Development (41%). The main barriers faced by the athletes were structural (facilities, equipment, funding) and the negative attitude from the government, public and media. However, despite these difficulties the majority of athletes were keen to continue to compete. Further work is required to ensure athletes with disabilities are provided with similar opportunities to athletes without disabilities.

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