More than 100 people from 14 different countries have taken part in an International Canoe Federation paracanoe webinar designed specifically for Spanish-speaking participants from the COPAC region.

The webinar, run in conjunction with COPAC and the Spanish Canoe Federation, built on the successful introduction of the format last year, where participants learn basic knowledge and tools to help with athlete classification and to assist them in developing paracanoe in their region.

Each video hook-up has been presented in a different language, targeting countries with lower knowledge of the sport but who are keen to grow paracanoe. 

Several new countries are now participating in international paracanoe competitions as a direct result of the webinars, including Vanuatu, who competed in last year’s ICF paracanoe world championships for the first time.

Haiti, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, French Guyana and Panama were among the countries which took part in Wednesday’s webinar.

“Our goal in setting up this webinar was to boost paracanoe awareness and development in South and Latin America, with a view to having the sport added to the Para-PanAm Games,” ICF paracanoe committee chair, John Edwards, said.

“We know that paracanoe is very accessible for all impairment groups, and our previous webinars in Oceania and Africa have been well received. In the future we will target French and Portuguese-speaking nations, and continue our development in Asia and Oceania.”

Wednesday’s presenters were Chile’s Dr Raul Smith and Monica Hernandez, and Spain’s Ismael Uali. The ICF’s head of classification, Fatima Fernandez, and paracanoe committee member Jean-Christophe Gonneaud, also provided support.

The topics were “How to do Paracanoe in a simple way” and a presentation on the athlete classification system for Paralympic sport competitions. A lengthy question-and-answer session underlined the importance of the webinar.

“The paracanoe committee understands the importance of educating the canoe community about the sport and its benefits, and believes this could generate strong enthusiasm in developing the sport globally,” Mr Edwards said.

The full webinar presentation will be available shortly on the website, and the video of the webinar will be posted on the Planet Canoe YouTube page.