Team Chonburi

The National Games for the Disabled recently took place in the southern province of Songkhla and Team Chonburi was represented, as it always is, by a large contingent from the Father Ray Foundation.

Most team members are current or former students at the Redemptorist Vocational School for People with Disabilities, with the Pattaya School for the Blind and the Father Ray Center for Children with Special Needs also sending athletes.

Not only does the vocational school have a reputation as one of the best schools of its kind in the country, it also has a tradition of producing athletes that have gone on to become local, national and international champions.

Students have gone on to represent Thailand at the Southeast Asian Games, the Asian Games and the Summer Paralympic Games, returning home to Thailand with more gold medals than their non-disabled compatriots.

Traveling down to Songkhla were 43 students and support staff from the vocational school, accompanied by seven blind and visually impaired students and four teenagers with special needs.

Medals were competed for in many sports, including track & field, ta-kraw, fencing, wheelchair basket, goalball, table tennis, standing volleyball and sitting volleyball.

Those who attend the Father Ray Center for Children with Special Needs never managed to win any medals, however, their province team mates did very well.

All seven blind students won a least one medal, with the three female team members returning home with three medals each.

The vocational school students also did very well, including one young lady who won four medals in the wheelchair fencing competition.

We all know sport is good for us, but for a young person with a disability participating in a sport is not just about winning. Of course, getting a medal is great, but being part of a team, hearing people cheering for you and having a sense of achievement does wonders for their confidence and self-esteem.

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