Cerebral Palsy Sport
Sports for people with cerebral palsy have been evolving since the early 1960s when sports activities formed part of the school curriculum for special schools and colleges. Many of these came under the direct control of the then Spastics Society, who sought to provide for their students in many different forms of physical activity.
The first Games for Spastics were organised by the then Physical Training Instructor to the Spastics Society. He had a daughter with cerebral palsy at the school and came into the work from the Army. The School in Tonbridge became a centre for sports activities and a base for many of the early activities. With the help of a number of volunteers and students from Nonington Training College, the Games were a great success. They brought together a number of different groups from Spastic Society establishments and provided sports activities ranging from running, throwing, swimming, slalom and tri-cycling. There was also an exchange programme with ‘Club 60’ from Cologne, Germany.
Towards the late ’60s the endeavours moved into the Midlands and found in Nottingham suitable facilities, a willing college of education students, supportive local authorities and an infrastructure that enabled an expansion and growth. Many different sports were offered and weekend and vocational activities were available because of possible accommodation in residential institutions. The exchange programme continued on a bi-annual basis.
The 1970s – The National disability sports scene starts to develop…
In 1976 an alternative international body to the Stoke Mandeville Games Federation was formed. That group catered for amputees, blind and cerebral palsy sports people. It meant that the national federations were beginning to have a voice at an international level, something that had never been available to them under the Stoke Mandeville organisation.
In England, the 1970s saw a real development of regional and national events encouraging athletes with spasticity to participate and compete. It was also becoming clear that there was a growing necessity to redefine spasticity in sports activities and at the same time, to begin revising the classification system. That would allow for a more functional form of assessment. No longer was it possible to allow for all groups, which might include ineligible athletes, to compete especially as there was now a greater emphasis on quality in competition.
In 1978 an international group governing cerebral palsy sport and recreation ceded from the International Sports Organisation for the Disabled group at an international seminar and games held in Edinburgh. From this time on the national federations had a single international focus and CP Sport lost the ‘spastics sports’ title and became a founder member of the new international federation. Because of its history and its high level of attainment CP Sport became a leader in the disability sport movement and have remained a world leader even until this day.
The 80s – Moving out of London
This was a time of growth and consolidation. A total of 122 athletes were admitted to the International Olympic Games for the Disabled in Arnhem and a growing number of cerebral palsy athletes have been either at Games for their own disability or at International Games such as New York (’84), Seoul (’88), Assen (’90), Barcelona (’92), Berlin (’94), Atlanta (’96), Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008).
The 90s – Raising the Games
Back in 1988 CP Sport moved their offices from London to Nottingham. The aim was to make sure there was world-class competition for people with cerebral palsy to take part in outside of the Paralympic programme. It has always been our policy to provide cerebral palsy sports people with regular competition. More importantly this competition had to be available for all levels of ability.
In co-operation with CPISRA, our charity has successfully organised several world-class competitions. The first World Games were held in Nottingham in 1989 and were known as the Robin Hood CP World Games. We ran these global events every four years in 1993, 1997 and 2001. Our charity has also run international competitions for the International Federation throughout the 90’s including CPISRA European Soccer events, European Athletics fixtures, World Cup Boccia events and World Cup Bowls.
We are delighted that we again had the opportunity to host the CPISRA World Games in 2015 in Nottingham.
We are a small organisation, but pride ourselves on thinking big – and delivering sport to anyone with cerebral palsy, irrespective of where they live.
2000s – Building the charity and participation
2001 – CP Sport becomes Independent
- Cerebral Palsy Sport became independent of Scope (formerly The Spastics Society) in 2001 and became an independent charity.
- Cerebral Palsy Sport is a respected founder member of the British Paralympic Association and lead the success story of British athletes in several sports in this country.
- Athletes from our charity form the backbone of many of the Paralympic squads. Past Presidents and current Executive members including Technical Officers, Sports Co-ordinators and Sports Classifiers have all come from our charity.
- In the new century, Cerebral Palsy Sport has grown into a recognised national disability sports organisation (NDSO) providing sporting opportunities across a range of sports including athletics, bowls, football, swimming and table cricket.
- In 2015 Cerebral Palsy Sport hosted the Nottingham 2015 CPISRA World Games and we welcomed 13 nations to a memorable multi-sport event in the heart of the city of Nottingham. We are proud that we welcomed the world.
- 2016 – marked our 15th birthday and we celebrated this special year by looking back over our history as well as staging our Awards in October 2016.
- 2017 saw us build upon the work we have undertaken to develop a range of adapted sports and fortunate to have worked with some dedicated partners to develop the sports of RaceRunning, Frame Football and Touch Golf and we are delighted to see participation growing in these adapted sports. We also developed our CP Awareness in Sport training programme which has been delivered nationally to professional, coaches, physios and some national governing bodies of sport.
- 2018 is a big year for Cerebral Palsy Sport as we take a large team of athletes, swimmers, parents and volunteers to the CPISRA World Games in San Cugat in August 2018.