What are the origins of the organisation?
It was founded in 1979 under the denomination “A.L.P.A.P.S – Sport mat Suergekanner*”. In 1981 it became a federation that is called Special Olympics since 1990 but the original part A.L.P.A.P.S. has remained in the name. At the time, the idea was to provide regular sports activities to children with problems. Today, there is no longer an upper age limit. Anyone aged 8 or more can participate. We even have more adult sportspeople than children or adolescents and would be happy to have more youngsters. The term “Suergekanner” is no longer appropriated today. Every human being has abilities – disabled people as well as others. We don’t focus anymore on weaknesses. That’s also why we talk about sportspeople.
* problematic children
How does the federation work?
We work as every other sports federation. We are member of the “Comité Olympique et Sportif Luxembourgeois” (COSL) and affiliated to the “Special Olympics International”.
Except of one half-time administrative secretary whose salary is partially paid by the COSL and the ministry of sports, we exclusively function with the help of volunteers and donations. We need donations to finance our participation in competitions abroad. Flight tickets for instance can become very expensive.
Our 400 or so active sportspeople are supported by many volunteers that often spend most of their spare time for the organisation. In the disciplines we offer, we provide training sessions on a weekly basis. That’s why we need trainers that are committed on the long term. Otherwise it is difficult to guarantee one discipline over the time.
What’s your biggest challenge?
Inclusion through sports. We are convinced that people with intellectual disabilities have hidden skills. We give them the possibility to reveal them. Our athletes obtain good results and spectators are unable to see who is disabled and who is not. An inclusive society respects differences. An unlimited participation in sports and society is important. And that’s our goal.