Children with disabilities from a sports club in Keighley have done the district proud by winning medals at a competition in London last weekend.
Young people from Bradford Keighley and Skipton Disability Athletics competed in the Special Olympics Lee Valley competition last Sunday, bringing back gold, silver, and bronze medals to the district.
One child that competed in the Special Olympics is ten-year-old Mohammed Zakariya Majid, who has cerebral palsy. Little Mohammed competed in the shotput, 60-metre race, and relay race, bringing home gold in both races.
However, Mohammed’s dad says there are not enough facilities or work around engaging disabled South Asian children in sports in Bradford.
Mohammed and his dad, Naeem Majid, travel from Manningham to Keighley twice a week to train at the athletic club. They make the trip because there are no other sports clubs or activities sessions for children with additional needs nearer to them.
Mr Majid is calling for more investment to be made so that children like Mohammed can participate in sports. Out of the twenty children who are a part of the club, Mohammed is the only one from the South Asian community.
His dad believes this is because there is a lack of clubs and classes for disabled children in inner-city Bradford and that there is a lack of knowledge of how to involve kids who need more help with sports and activity sessions within the South Asian community.
Mr Majid said: “My son who is ten and has cerebral palsy took part in the Special Olympics in London last weekend. He competed in the shot put competition, 60-metre race, and relay race, winning gold in the latter two races.
“We travel from near Lister Mills to Keighley for my son to take part in athletics. We are looking for a venue to host sessions in Bradford but there are few available.
“There are few schools in Bradford that have a track. There is one at Bingley Grammar, but I can’t think of any others that have an Olympic track.
“Sports facilities from the city centre to Bingley are extremely limited. Recently, my son went to an event in Manchester, and most recently in London which both had great provisions, but where are the facilities in Bradford? Is that causing us to lack in sports as Asians? Having a facility in Bingley is not really accessible to the South Asian community living in the inner-city.
“We have an outdated Pakistani community centre but that is not really used for sports. Do we need to knock it down? Do we need to build new facilities? If you go to India or Pakistan, the kids over there love sports, especially cricket, hockey, and netball. We don’t have a sports hub.
“I am from BD8 near Lister Mills. I have to travel to Keighley twice a week to use the facilities there. If you have a disabled child, then you are very limited in the Bradford area. He does play football on a Sunday with Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure, though.
Mr Majid added: “My son is the only South Asian child at the athletics club. There is a bit more at the football sessions. More disabled South Asian children are not participating in sports because there is a lack of facilities.
“There is also a lack of education around disabled children and disabled adults and sports. When I contacted my local mosque, they were very hesitant to provide facilities to help my son.
“If you don’t know where to look then it is extremely hard. There is no help out there. I discovered the football club by chance, and one of the coaches told me about the athletics club. It is through word of mouth that I found out about it.”
The sports sessions in Keighley help Mr Majid keep on top of his son’s physiotherapy. Due to the pandemic, Mohammed’s physiotherapy with the NHS stopped and the cost of going private was too prohibitive at £150 per session.
Mohammed’s dad said: “I am so proud of my son. A few years ago, he had an operation where doctors cut open his spine and removed nerves that caused him to tiptoe, which means he walks on them less, now.
“Due to Covid-19, the physiotherapists working in the children’s ward became non-existent and because of this, I had to bridge the gap. Private physiotherapy was out of the question because you are looking at £150, and to make it worthwhile, you are looking for at least four sessions a month, which would be £600 and few people can afford that, which is why I started hunted downing groups to help with his physiotherapy.
“I want more South Asian children with disabilities to get involved in sports. There is help out there, you just need to know where to look.”