Ljubljana, Slovenia. Sitting Volleyball players Lena Gabršcek and Senta Jeler (pictured) are among a number of Slovenian para-athletes featured in a campaign launched to showcase how sport can connect people with disability in the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Part of the ‘Sport spirit does not pick a body’ campaign, which launched at the end of 2020, Slovenian para-athletes feature prominently in the music video of the song This Tempo by rapper Rok Terkaj. The Slovenian Paralympic Committee and the Federation regrouping national associations for people with disabilities have initiated the project, whose goal is to spread recognition of para-sport among the general public and arouse greater interest in the Paralympic Games.
The song, first presented on-line in April 2020 due to restrictions in place because of the pandemic, is available to all Slovenian sports organisations and schools free of charge and now has a fitting video to go with it as well.
“The song was of great importance to me during the quarantine period, as it motivated me to train at home and I still listen to it many times,” Jeler, a member of the Slovenian Sitting Volleyball national team says. “It gave me a special feeling, since it really describes us, the para-athletes, well. It describes how we work hard day by day and do our best despite our disabilities. The song is also liked by our entire national team, women’s and men’s. The text carries an important message and reaches deep into anyone’s heart. I hope that with the help of the song and the video we will also make the general public aware of what we are doing and that they will start following our sport and our competitions more closely.”
“I met para-athletes several times and each story gave me some inspiration,” singer Rok Terkaj said. “After each meeting, I wrote some lyrics, and in the end, when I came to the studio, we discarded the whole text. And the same was for the second, third time. At the fifth attempt I was finally satisfied and I knew this was what I was looking for, that this was the right energy I wanted to give to para-athletes, their fans, and everyone else,” Terkaj recalls of the anthem’s creation.
Sitting Volleyball has a long tradition in Slovenia and especially their women’s national team has been very successful on the international stage, with a silver (2002) and two bronze medals (2000 and 2006) from the World Championships on their resume. Their list of achievements is even more impressive if we look at the European Championships with gold in 1999 to go with silver in 2001 and 2003 and as many as six bronze medals (1995, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2015).
The Volleyball Federation of Slovenia (OZS) recently established a foundation to raise funds in order to help young Sitting Volleyball players with some kind of scholarships in their further development.