Building Nepal's Capacity to Implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

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I love everything about sports, which brings me a freedom that I seldom find when I’m in my head, which is most of the time.  Professed enemies can come together and allow themselves to compete on the field, court, in the water, on the pitch, diamond, wherever, and share in moments of bliss.  Sports bring countries and people together, something which I witnessed firsthand at a recent Nepal-India soccer match.  (This is really important in Nepal as there are more than 100 political parties and bandhs, protests shutting down various areas of the country, but seemingly having very little impact, are called all of the time.  I’ve never seen so many Nepalis letting go of their emotions before this match, and cheering for the home team, which Nepal ended up winning 2-1.  But what about the idea of using sports instead of wars to resolve the world's issues).  Sports can also enable those who feel disenfranchised, such as Persons with Disabilities to actively participate and feel a sense of pride in what many might consider as a “less than perfect” body. 

In India I was able to combine my outright craziness for basketball with my vocation at the time, i.e. working with Persons with Disabilities.  I’ve carried this through to Nepal by coaching an Army wheelchair basketball team every Sunday morning, and facilitating a three day coaching session, May 2013, with 60 wheelchair athletes and Americans from Wheelchair Athletes Worldwide (WAW), similar to what we did in India during November 2011.

Although we now have some hardware, as WAW donated 11 sports wheelchairs, my concern was how to ensure getting a maximum number of wheelchair athletes trained/coached on a consistent basis. 

This is where ENGAGE comes in, an organisation working on creating a more volunteer based society throughout Nepal.  Kalpana Gurung, is the Chairperson and Co-Founder and her husband Simone Galimberti is a major mover and shaker.  Simone and Kalpana agreed to engage and train some volunteers for the May 2013 event, mentioned above.  They then took this one step further by meeting with Aakash Shrestha of Nepal Spinal Cord Injury Sports Association (NSCISA) who is also working on developing more disability sports activities.  Aakash asked ENGAGE to find some coaches (volunteers) who could be trained in order to develop regular coaching throughout Kathmandu as there are a number of wheelchair athletes who could potentially be trained in having a more active life. 

Today, September 15, 2013, after a number of attempts, we trained six potential volunteer coaches at the regular Nepal Army wheelchair basketball training!  There is still a great deal of work to be done, but building the infrastructure has begun.  We would like to be able to compete on an international level and with that in mind we will do our best to train wheelchair and other “disabled” athletes.  But things won’t stop there.

We need to develop a national training center for any Person with Disabilities who wants to participate in any sport, whether that is volley ball, swimming, tennis, badmitton, soccer, rugby, cricket, etc.  As with anyone else this should be up to the participant.  Ultimately it is about creating an inclusive society in which everyone is accepted and reasonable accommodation is made, not because it is mandated, but because we all realize that “together” through diversity we make the world a brighter place. 

Please contact me at if you want to volunteer (coach) and help Persons with Disabilities to lead the type of life which they are entitled. 


Position: Lover of Life-Change Agent

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