Indigenous athletes exhibit customs at the School Paralympics



(Ale Cabral / CPB)

The competitions for the 2021 School Paralympics began this Wednesday morning, the 24th, at the Paralympic Training Center, in São Paulo, and the athletics events were marked by the participation of at least two athletes of indigenous origin from the North and Northeast Regions from the country. In all, the event has 902 athletes, from 25 units of the federation, in 13 sports, and will continue until next Friday, 26th.

The 100m of the T35-T37 classes in the under-18 category had the participation of Geovana Campos Souza from Amazonas and Alane Ellen Medeiras from Paraíba, representing far beyond their birth states, but also the tribes from which they came.

Geovana, 16 years old, participating in the School Paralympics since 2017, has ancestry from the Kokama tribe, located on the top of the Solimões River, is very happy to return to the event in São Paulo, for young people with disabilities of school age, from 12 to 17 years old.

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“It is very gratifying to be able to participate again. It’s always a very good experience, I’m very happy!”, said the athlete who has cerebral palsy, which affects the movements of the lower limbs.

She lives with her mother and stepfather outside the limits of the tribe’s village, in the municipality of Itacoatiara, 270 kilometers by car from the capital Manaus, but she says that her aunt is the chief of the indigenous group. “It’s in the blood, my entire family is Kokama. In Vila do Novo Remanso, where I live, there are few houses and they are very far from each other, it is a rural area. I help make manioc flour there”, reported the young woman, who trains about three times a week to compete and will also do the 400m and javelin throwing at the School Paralympics.

Alane, 16, from Paraíba, on the other hand, decided to bring the representation of the Potiguara peoples stamped on her skin to the tests at the Paralympic CT. It belongs to the municipality called Baía da Traição, 80 kilometers north of João Pessoa, whose territory is 90% in Potiguara indigenous reserves. The athlete painted on her arms, with paint made from natural materials, a Jurema leaf (which means wisdom and contact with beings from the spiritual world), a bee hive (which represents the community), and on her leg an amulet for protection and luck, called “dream catcher”.

“I decided to paint myself to bring a little of the Potiguar people to São Paulo, present a little of our culture to the rest of Brazil, since here there are athletes from all over the country. I still haven’t found another athlete who has done paintings”, explained the young woman who has cerebral palsy, which affects the motor coordination of the limbs.

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This is Alane’s first participation in the world’s largest Paralympic event for schoolchildren. “It’s amazing to be here. I’m very happy”, completed the athlete who will still do the long jump competition.

In all, 13 sports will be disputed until Friday at the School Paralympics, 26: athletics, wheelchair basketball (3×3 format), bocce ball, 5-a-side football (for the blind), 7-a-side football (for the brain paralyzed), goalball , judo, swimming, parabadminton, parataekwondo, table tennis, wheelchair tennis and sitting volleyball.

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