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Special ones bloom in Victor Vaz’s care

Special ones bloom in Victor Vaz’s care

13 Aug 2017 No comment 22 hits

It's his birthday but instead of taking a day off and celebrating at home with his family, Victor Vaz is busy preparing himself for next morning's visit to Delhi. There are files on his table at the office that need attention, a couple of anxious parents are waiting to meet him too.

It's not easy being Victor Vaz. Not when you are heading the Goa division of Special Olympics and dealing with 8,000 special children, or children with intellectual disability, across the state. And he's been doing this for more than 25 years. "This is a 24x7 job and it's not easy. You need plenty of patience," said Vaz, lounging on his seat at his office in Neugi Nagar in the city.

As a promising athlete, Vaz was blessed with speed, determination and stamina to compete in middle- distance running but patience was always going to be in short supply. When a parent casually approached him to train their child in athletics, Vaz took on the challenge but soon found out that he was cut from a different cloth.

"I used to give him proper directions and demonstrate as well but he would be distracted. He would simply move here and there. I lost my cool soon enough and screamed at him. It was then that the parents told me that he was a special child," said Vaz, who immediately started hunting for all available material on special children.

That was in the late eighties when awareness about special children was almost negligible. Now, things have changed, but even to this day, Vaz, 56, is left to deal with ignorant parents who knock on the doors of his office and bring their children who, in their words, "are mad."

"The one thing that these children have given me is patience. I know how to deal with anyone now," says the president of Special Olympics, Goa and resident of Miramar.

He is patient with everyone. His coaches and staff has never seen him lose his cool. His family- wife Anna, an orthodontist, and daughter Vienna, a student of dentistry - will agree as well.
A former assistant engineer (mechanical) at the Goa Dental College, it wasn't smooth running for Vaz himself at work, so he quit in 2015 to dedicate himself entirely to the cause of Special Olympics and helped the state win plenty of international medals.

It all started in 1991 when Anthony Colaco won a long jump gold for India in the United States at the World Games. Three years later, Sandra Fernandes missed a medal by a whisker but since then no Goan contingent - part of the India squad - has returned without a medal. The 35 gold, 15 silver and 23 bronze medals at both the summer and winter games is testimony to Vaz's amazing work with these children.

"Since we don't allow parents for camps and the children are left entirely in the hands of coaches, discipline is of utmost importance. When the children join us, at first they are hesitant. They want to quit and go back home but an international trip makes a world of difference to their confidence," said Vaz.

Vaz and his organisation has helped approximately 50 Goan athletes travel abroad for international competitions. Most travelled abroad for the first time, without any of their family members, and when they return, they are a transformed lot.

"At Special Olympics, it's not about winning a medal. It's about changing lives," says Vaz. He has been doing a pretty good job about it. Since 1991

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Source: Special ones bloom in Victor Vaz’s care

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