Badminton training Wednesday evening in the gym at Gräfelfing Primary School was an important training session. Jessica Voigt was a seeded participant on the badminton team for the Special Olympics National Games in Berlin in June. Then a shoulder injury intervened. Now she sits on the bench and can only watch. You will not be able to participate in Berlin, and therefore not after a year in the international games, the 2023 Special Olympics World Games, which will also take place in the capital. Because now in Berlin you have to qualify for it. For Jessica Voigt, a little dream explodes.
On the other hand, her fiancé Vincenzo Ventrella can go on living the dream. He plays basketball in a sports program presented by the Open Action Disabled-Evangelical Munich Region (OBA) and will travel to Berlin in June. He hopes his team will qualify for the 2023 World Games, the Olympic Games for people with intellectual and multiple disabilities, which will feature more than 20 sports. Sporting events and sports in general are of great importance to the couple. Jessica Voigt, 39, has a learning disability, Vincenzo Vinterella, 53, has a learning disability. Sports is an important recreational factor for both. They meet friends, have fun, assert themselves and celebrate mutual success.
When Vincenzo, who is called Vinci in the circle of friends, talks about sports, his eyes light up and he says: “Sports is my life,” and sports make him happy. In basketball, he plays “the right wing, the left wing and the striker – all positions.” He is the team captain. He also plays soccer and does gymnastics and weightlifting. He has to take care of himself. It is important to drink a lot and wear a hat when it is sunny because he suffers from seizures. But now he’s adapting well to medication and hasn’t had an accident in a long time, he said.
For non-disabled people, it goes without saying that they can practice their sport at their place of residence at the local club. For people with disabilities like Jessica Voigt, it is a special feature that badminton training takes place under the TSV umbrella in Gräfelfing. It is a step towards inclusion. Being able to tap into sports at your doorstep means less freedom of choice and self-determination, says OBA’s Jens Fulness. That’s what embedding is all about. People with disabilities simply join everywhere. But the reality is often different. For people with disabilities, there are usually special sports offerings at special facilities that can’t usually be found in your vicinity. Vincenzo Ventrella goes to Großhadern to play basketball; Before a badminton show at Gräfelfing, she drove Jessica Voigt to Feldmoching for training.
The province hosts athletes from Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Gibraltar
OBA would like to integrate more of its sports groups into local clubs in order to achieve more inclusion, Wafra says. This highlights the 2023 Special Olympics World Games. The Games are the largest municipal integration project in the history of the Federal Republic. There is great hope in the concept of a host city: 216 municipalities in Germany are hosting athletes and their families in the four days before the Games in Berlin and want to promote encounters between people with and without disabilities. The Munich region is one of the host communities with the municipalities of Planege, Gravelving, Garching, Ismanning, Unterführing, Oberhaching and Tuffkirchen. International delegations from all over the world are expected to attend. Now it is also clear which of them will visit the region: the Papua New Guinea delegation with 51 people will be a guest at Gräfelfing and Planegg; A New Zealand delegation of 64 people is coming to Garching, Ismaning and Unterföhring and a Gibraltar delegation with 45 people is expected to arrive in Oberhaching and Taufkirchen.
An Olympic sporting event can provide an incentive to open the doors to clubs for people with disabilities. This is the hope of those who work full time or on a voluntary basis in working with persons with disabilities. Sport has what it takes, says Follens, who will go to Berlin as a coach: “Sport unites.” Especially when the differences in performance between athletes with and without disabilities are not very large, co-ops in which the disability regresses can suddenly develop completely in the background. In addition, the club’s comprehensive sports offer can also be an opportunity for junior non-disabled people for whom the usual sports offer at the club is highly performing and competitive, in order of importance. Venterella emphasizes that fun should be the focus of sports. He once got involved in club football and soon stopped because he was “too strict” for him. He is definitely not alone in that.
TSV Gräfelfing is an exemplary club when it comes to inclusion
As far as integrating into the sport is concerned, TSV Gräfelfing is a ‘model club’, in abundance. Since 2020, the TSV has had an Integration Officer committed to equal opportunity and thus not only the one responsible for people with and without disabilities, but also for other groups that are often on the fringes of society, such as refugees or young people from immigrant families. Under the TSV umbrella, the sport is already partially inclusive: everyone is welcome to the Wednesday night sports show “Games and Sports”, which has been in the OBA sports community and has since moved to Gräfelfing, as well as to the Badminton Show and without restrictions. The OBA has already assigned individual players to clubs, for example in the athletics department of Gräfelfing as well as in the tennis department.
When the team of 26 OBA athletes, headed by Jens Fulness, boarded ICE to Berlin in June to go to the National Special Olympics, Vincenzo Ventrella will be there, as will Jessica Voigt, despite her injury: She’s committed to Olympic creed “It’s all about being there.” There” he works as a coach. Jessica Vogt will cheer up, build, motivate her team and whatever it takes to earn a medal. Ventrella hopes to get one in basketball, because he definitely wants to be there in Berlin in 2023. In the sport, you always go a step further, he says. “Sometime the World Cup will come.”