Interview with Marco Girardi from the Association for the Promotion of Sports for the Disabled
Marco Girardi: “Giving people with disabilities a voice is not just a job for me anymore.”
Two companies – one matter of the heart: Trevision is the happy, new sponsor of the ÖBSV.
With our latest partnership, we want to achieve more than sponsorship goals. Namely, a change in society. People with disabilities should be integrated into all areas of life. This is exactly the mission of the ÖBSV. Supporting this lofty goal is not business for us, but a social obligation – as a company, but also as people who live and work together here.
Due to the new partnership, CEO Marco Girardi talks to us about the importance of ÖBSV, the challenges and rewards in his job and the small but subtle difference between “doing sports” and “being able to do sports” for the topic of inclusion.
About the association
The Austrian Disabled Sports Association has a clear mission: to facilitate access to sport for all people with disabilities – from beginners to top athletes. In this way, they can experience its importance for health, mobility, independence, quality of life and integration and integrate daily exercise – whether in a team on the volleyball court or alone in Nordic skiing – into their lives.
The association reaches out to all disabled athletes in Austria and promotes the topics of inclusion and independence of people with disabilities in Austria with its broad range of activities. The association’s diverse tasks include targeted sports development, the organization of get-to-know meetings, taster courses or the sending to tournaments, further education for movement trainers, sports counseling for people with disabilities and much more.
About the person
Marco Girardi left the telecommunications industry behind to work for disabled people in the field of sports. Today, the skiing enthusiast is the managing director responsible for the entire rights marketing of the association. He is thus responsible for sponsoring, external presentation and the further development of the brand. Between his many appointments, we luckily found time for a short conversation:
In your own words: What is ÖBSV and why is the work of the association so important?
ÖBSV is necessary and a catalyst for the advancement of issues such as inclusion and participation of people with disabilities, all things that no longer have anything to do with the classic practice of sport per se, but are enormously important socially.
Rewards are mainly given when I can and am allowed to observe how good regular exercise and sports training have an effect on the lives of disabled people, how they literally blossom and can thus better and more easily assert their place in society.
Note by Trevision: The importance of sports for a self-determined life of people with impairments can already be seen in the founding history of the ÖBSV. In the post-war period, the work of the association was so well received by war-disabled and blind people that many of them voluntarily gave up their war victims’ pensions because they could take on self-responsibility in sport – and see themselves as “valuable” again. At that time, the population did not understand at all why war-disabled people wanted to do sports at all.
Do you like your job in the association?
To be able to advocate for such a sensitive as well as beautiful topic, to be able to give a voice to these great and so multi-faceted disabled people, is actually no longer a job for me, but rather a task that is equally challenging – and daily – as well as wonderful.
Rewards come especially when I can and am allowed to observe how well regular exercise and sports training have an effect on the lives of disabled people, how they literally blossom and can thus better and more easily assert their place in society.
“Personally, I quite like the idea in principle that often the sport finds the prospective athlete with disabilities and not the other way around.”
Which sports is the association dedicated to?
Basically, all popular sports that we know can be practiced and learned by people with disabilities. But there are also exotic ones like e-roller soccer, race running or wheelchair rugby.
Personally, I like the idea that the sport often finds the prospective athlete with a disability and not the other way around, because quite a few people got to know sports through exercise training, a kind of “getting to know”, so to speak.
Note from Trevision: The association does not exclude any disability groups – and therefore no challenges. From mental disability sports to wheelchair sports, sports for the blind and visually impaired or people with technical aids such as prostheses, the individual concerns of the groups are taken into account and specifically addressed by competence bodies.
And what age group is the offer aimed at?
I like to say casually “sports are offered from 6-99”.
Can people without disabilities also benefit from ÖBSV?
There is a clear commitment to the topic of inclusion within the ÖBSV, but it has also always been the case that healthy and disabled people have played sports together through cooperation with other sports clubs.
Trevision’s note: People with mental or physical impairments are left out by the expectation of a high workload in most clubs. The knowledge about the necessary adaptations of training plans or the set of rules is simply missing. Movement trainers* must be trained differently. This already starts in the gymnastics lessons in schools. Here, too, the ÖBSV makes an important contribution and, in cooperation with universities, offers training for coaches as well as training for inclusive sports programs in schools.
Is the ÖBSV only for professional athletes?
No, although the ÖBSV can be very proud of the many participants in international events such as the Paralympics, World Championships and European Championships and the large number of medals, it is the popular and mass sports in the more than 100 sports clubs throughout the country that represent an essential core competence.
Note from Trevision: Since 2003, the association has been legally entitled to federal sports funding and thus secures basic funding. Nevertheless, further income from sponsoring and from generous donors is of enormous importance. In addition to sparingly used expenditures for administrative activities, handicap groups, sports departments, national events, sending to major international sports events and preparations for them, as well as youth and health sports projects and finally the purchase of sports equipment must be secured.
Please give us an outlook into the future. What are the most important goals of the ÖBSV in the next 5 years?
More inclusion, strengthening mass sports, making the ÖBSV brand even better known and, last but not least, making sure that we find even more strong partners in the domestic industry who not only think this is a great path, but also want to accompany and support it.
My wish for the partnership with Trevision is that it will be equally inspiring and fruitful for both sides. I am not only looking at the here and now, but also at everything that still lies ahead of us and I am looking forward to many steps that we can take together.
Thank you very much for the interview!
Just like Marco Girardi, we are looking forward to an inspiring time together and would like to thank you once again for the opportunity to support this important topic as a sponsor.