AWARD-winning coach, Fred Fatiaki has endorsed the Fiji Paralympic Games, saying it was an eye-opener for many people.
Fatiaki, who won the 2011 Coach of the Year award earlier this year, went on to coach Iliesa Delana to Fiji's first ever gold medal win at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
He said the day-long event had done what no other event had done in the past. "This has given people with disabilities an opportunity to participate in a competition," Fatiaki said.
"Usually, these people are neglected and just sit and watch games played by others on the court or they watch on television," he said.
"But today (yesterday), these people with disabilities are no longer spectators, they are playing games and are loving every moment of it."
He said social inclusion was very important as people with disabilities also had a life and feelings and instead of being neglected, they should be given equal treatment.
"Often we look at playing sports at elite level and tend to forget grassroots level but the Fiji Paralympic Games bring games to players who are not able to complete at a higher level," Fatiaki said.
Sponsors of the event, Digicel, are considering partnering with the Fiji Paralympic Committee in the future.
Digicel Fiji CEO Maurice McCarthy said Digicel supported the vision of the Fiji Paralympic Committee, which was to identify, groom and train aspiring talents.
He said recreation and sports made an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of all people, including people with disabilities.
"The barriers that once prohibited people with disabilities from enjoying the benefits of sport are rapidly disappearing," McCarthy said.
"Nowadays, people with a disability participate in high performance as well as in competitive and recreational sport," he said.