by Wiebke Scheffler, ITTF Foundation Consultant
Established in 2002 as a response to the low participation of women in the Paralympic movement, the main functions of the group are to recommend strategies and policies in order to obtain the full inclusion of women and girls at all levels of Paralympic sport and within the Paralympic movement. Furthermore, a major goal is to identify barriers that may restrict participation, whilst also suggesting policies and initiatives to increase participation.
The Women in Sport Committee is chaired by Rita van Driel from the Netherlands, IPC Governing Board Member at Large, who has already presided at IPC Development Committee meetings and for the IPC Nordic Skiing Technical Commission.
Five members assist her in the task of providing advice and consultation to the IPC on issues of gender equity in Paralympic Sport.
In addition to Leandro Olvech, the members are: Sonia Bidouh (Secretary-General at the Tunisian Paralympic Committee), Karen O’Neill (Chief Executive Officer at the Canadian Paralympic Committee), Fiona Allan (Chief Executive and Secretary-General at Paralympics New Zealand) and Åsa Llinares Norlin (Member of the Swedish Paralympic Committee.
“It is an honour and pleasure to be part of this valuable committee. Para sport in the form of Para table tennis has been part of my life since youth, when I started to coach Para players in marginalized and impoverished neighbourhoods in my home town Buenos Aires in Argentina. Women’s development is an active part of the ITTF Development Programme since 2003 and has won Sport Accord’s “Spirit of Sport Award”. in 2012, it was shortlisted for the 2017 edition of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award. Within the ITTF Foundation Management Team, I am so far the only man. Might my colleagues guide me in fulfilling my position in the IPC Women in Sport Committee with the deserved duty and quality!” Leandro Olvech
Notably, Leandro Olvech is no stranger to the IPC; his career at the ITTF started after holding various positions as a Para Table Tennis Official, at that time under the IPC umbrella.
Later, during his first years as the ITTF Development Co-ordinator he took part in the integration process of moving Para Table Tennis from the IPC umbrella to the ITTF. He played a key role in the establishment of ITTF Coach Accreditation System, for which he also co-wrote the first level PTT Coaching Manual.