Jackson Follmann

Week 175 (18 – 24 February 2017)

Throughout history, sport has told powerful stories, built character and transformed lives.

Yet it wasn’t until the early 20th century that organised para-sport – driven forward by the Paralympic Games – emerged to bring the enjoyment and benefit of sport to people with an impairment who, in previous centuries, would have been denied the chance, and access, to play sport.

In today’s world, para-sport is booming, with technology making it accessible to millions of people.

For Jackson Follmann, para-sport is helping him overcome the traumatic tragedy of losing his leg, and 19 of his Chapecoense team-mates, in a plane crash in Colombia in November last year.

At only 24, the Brazilian goalkeeper has also lost his professional football career.

Follmann, however, is not dwelling on his situation and has already set his sights on competing in the Paralympic Games one day, an ambition that has caught the media’s attention both for its romance and its tragedy.

Follmann declared his intention during a visit to the new Brazilian Paralympic Centre in São Paulo this week, where he tried out various para-sports, including sitting-down volleyball, and met with Rio 2016 Paralympic medallists, such as long jumper Ricardo Costa de Oliveira.

Being introduced to the para-sports world left Follmann full of admiration and inspiration. He told Brazilian TV after his visit:

"This was an unforgettable day.

"I could get in touch with people from different sports and it was amazing.

"I am glad to see that limitation is something that just exists in people's minds.

"Everybody in here is able to do more now than they did before their impairments.

"That fuels me even more to work on the recovery and do a lot of stuff moving forward.”

Whilst the speed at which Follmann is putting his life back together is impressive, it is his motivational communication about para-sport that makes him the JTA Communicator of the Week.

As one of only three players to survive the tragic plane crash, Follmann’s journey towards his ambition of competing in the Paralympic Games will be well documented by the media.

With his communication skills and an emotional force driving him, he could be a hugely influential and inspiring ambassador for the para-sports world in the years to come.

 Photo: Flickr