Opportunity, Development and Participation

    What we do

    • Provide Recreation & Sport Opportunity
    • Develop adoptive recreation & sport
    • Facilitate related CP research
    • Information, Education and Training

    How we do it

    • CP World Games
    • International Development Competitions
    • Recreation, Sports & Personal Development Camps
    • Development Pathway for New & Adapted Sports
    • Exercise, Recreation and Sports Research
    • Information exchange via website and CPISRA Networks
    • Seminars, Courses and Training


    CPISRA Brochure

    Download the CPISRA Information Brochure

    Introduction to Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA).






      CPISRA is the leading international sports organisation governing and promoting sport and recreation for Cerebral Palsy (CP) and related neurological conditions throughout the World. CPISRA is a founding organisation of the Paralympics and one of only four International Organisations of Sport for the Disabled (IOSD) recognised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to represent impairment groups.

      CPISRA’s vision is that “all people who have CP or related neurological conditions have the opportunity to benefit from and participate in sport and recreation throughout the World”. It is estimated that two to three out of every 1000 newborn children will develop CP. Approximately 40% of those born with CP will have a severe case. It is the most common motor disorder in children and is second only to autism as the most common disability in children.

      CPISRA was formed in 1969 and is an innovative organisation of members and volunteers that performs a number of roles;

      • Promote the value of sport and recreation for those with CP and related neurological conditions.
      • Evolve, grow and support development of new and adaptive recreation and sports. For example, Boccia and CP Football are Paralympic sports that were both developed and evolved to International Sports Federations by CPISRA
      • Facilitate international sports opportunities from grassroots to elite, including the delivery of the CPISRA Regional Events and CPISRA World Games.
      • Encourage the organisation and running of more World, National and Regional Games.
      • Be an advocate for Cerebral Palsy athletes across sports in supporting competition in a “fair” environment.
      • New and exciting roles are:
        • Facilitating exercise, recreation and sport research
        • Helping health professionals, parents, careers, schools, charities, etc to encourage recreational and sport participation.

      Vision & Mission
      “All people who have Cerebral Palsy or related neurological conditions have the opportunity to benefit from and participate in sport and recreation throughout the World” 





















      In accordance with CPISRA’s strategic plan (2015-2018) the following networks will be implemented in phases through 2017:

      • Athletes Network
      • Research Network
      • Coaches Network
      • Volunteer Network


      CPISRA has the following forms of membership:

      • National Members
      • Associate Members
      • Individual Members

      Only one organization per country shall be admitted as a ‘Full Member’ of CPISRA and shall be known as a National Member.

      National Members
      Only the national organisation that holds the position of ruling body in its respective country on matters concerning sports for persons with the conditions stated in article 2 of the CPISRA constitution is eligible to be a Full Member.

      Associate Members
      Other organisations or national and international organisations that have made a significant contribution, or are interested in the field of sports and recreation for those with the conditions stated in article 2 of the CPISRA, are eligible to become Associate Members.

      Individual Members
      Other organisations or national and international organizations that have made a significant contribution, or are interested in the field of sports and recreation for those with the conditions stated in article 2 of the CPISRA, are eligible to become Associate Members.


      An Overview: 1969-1978

      TOWARDS CP ISRA, 1969 – 1978


      In the late 1960s the care and status of people with cerebral palsy – often referred to as Spastics – was very different from today. Sport played a part in the lives of only a very few; it was often considered impracticable, except in some schools and specialist clubs with dedicated teachers and leaders.

      International sport for people with different disabilities was developing fast. The deaf were first in the field and set up their organisation, CISS, in 1924. Other disability groups followed, due mainly to the initiative of Sir Ludwig Guttmann. The World Veterans’ Association had taken the lead in 1960, by setting up a working group on sport for the disabled. This was dissolved in 1964 when the International Sports Organisation for Disabled (ISOD), was formed under their patronage. ISOD became independent of WVA in 1967.It claimed to cater for people with all physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy. The International Blind Sports Association (IBSA), was set up in 1980. In 1960 the Olympic Games for the Paralysed were held in Rome.

      People with cerebral palsy enjoyed fewer opportunities for sport and recreation. Some nations, mainly those with strong Spastics Societies,(as they were then called) provided sport; in others, people with CP were included in multi-disabled sports clubs.

      ICPS, International Cerebral Palsy Society, was founded in 1969 in Dublin during a Rehabilitation International conference that set up a World Commission on Cerebral Palsy. ICPS became its successor.


      At the Dublin conference, Dr Arie Klapwijk, an eminent rehabilitation doctor from the Netherlands spoke about Het Dorp, a village for disabled people that he had inspired and brought to fruition as a part of the city of Arnhem. He referred to the negative attitudes of many people towards those with severe disabilities. The lecture sparked great interest. Derek Lancaster-Gaye from the Spastics Society of England and Wales, Kurt Juster from Germany and Sir Ludwig Guttmann , president of ISOD, approached Dr Klapwijk about organising international sport and recreation for people with cerebral palsy.


      Soon after the conference, discussions took place with James and Anita Loring, the Secretary-General and Secretary of the newly formed ICPS, Kurt Juster, father of a disabled child from Germany, and Wim Bijleveld, Director of Het Dorp. ICPS agreed to set up a Sports and Leisure Group. Further consultation took place, during which time the Spastics Society staged the first European Spastics Games in London in the summer of 1972.

      November 1972 witnessed the first meeting of the Group in Göteborg, Sweden, Chaired by Derek Lancaster-Gaye, with Arie Klapwijk, Victor Wahlstrom from the CP organisation in Sweden, Henning Svendsen, a sports instructor from Denmark, Elizabeth Dendy from the English Sports Council and Kate Williams from the Spastics Society

      The Group was not democratically elected; the mechanics to achieve this were not yet in place. Members included nominees from Associations, invited individuals and representatives from interested countries. The membership was fairly constant over the seven years, 1972-78*. It was usual to invite a disabled person from the country hosting meetings to attend.


      From the start the Group’s concern went beyond competitive sport. Its name – Sports and Leisure – was deliberate, and at the first meeting holiday exchanges for young people with severe disability were discussed. The needs of these people were given priority. This philosophy did not fit in with ISOD, who could not at that time envisage people with CP as elite athletes; nor had they found a fair system of classifying athletes.


      This fledgling Group needed friends and partners. ICPS, the parent body, is a self-help umbrella organisation acting as a resource centre aiming to provide knowledge, support and encouragement to people with a disability and all types of professionals who work with them. It is an organisation that responds to need, helping others to help themselves. The members wielded great influence in their home nations.

      ISOD, comprised of national sports organisations for disabled people, concentrated on elite competition; in its structure the medical fraternity held sway. Although, after 1967, it included CPs within its remit, as late as 1976 Sir Ludwig said that international rules for CPs were still only in preparation. In the Epilogue to his book, A Textbook of Sport for the Disabled, he stated: “sport for CP sufferers and certain other forms of disability is still in its infancy”. CP athletes were not included in the 1st World Multi-disabled Games in 1974 at Stoke Mandeville, nor in the Olympiad for Physically Handicapped held in Toronto in 1976. The Group consulted regularly with ISOD and learnt from them, but there were clashes of philosophy, personality and control, and meetings became unproductive.


      In 1975 the Group became a formal ICPS Committee, the Chairman, Derek Lancaster-Gaye, reporting to the Executive Board, but with inadequate communication between the two. Apart from Arie Klapwijk and George Pollock, members did not appear have an interest in sport and leisure. Progress came largely through contacts in the world of CP, particularly the National Spastics Organisations, but also through Unions of Parents and individuals.

      From the start sports technicians, coaches, medical practitioners and team leaders worked together on an equal footing. The choice of sports was wide; as early as 1973, horse riding, sailing, canoeing, mountaineering and wheelchair dancing were included alongside the more traditional sports such as track and field, swimming and soccer.

      Many athletic events were adapted and simplified to meet the needs of younger and more disabled athletes. Improvements were constantly sought. A paper from Gershon Huberman of Israel presented to the Seminar that accompanied the International Spastics Games in London in 1974, discussed competition and offered some solutions and conclusions for the development of sport activities for spastic adolescents. He concluded: “There is a great need for organised sport activities and sport meetings of CP persons on all levels. Such sport activities should not copy games of the able-bodies, but may include adaptations of various events”.


      The early acceptance of the continuum of competitive sport, recreational sport, recreation and leisure set the Committee apart from the other international sports organisations. Leisure can be all of life for severely disabled people; it can also be a motivation for life. Leisure played an important role in ICPS, though differences in national cultures limited the sharing of some activities. Holiday exchanges were offered through DIVE. Consultations were held with several organisations including Mobility International


      The Committee faced particular challenges in developing competitive sport.

      ·   Recognition and acceptance that people with CP could be elite sportspeople was rare; they did not look right or have the right image, compared to the many well-balanced, strong and articulate paraplegics. A huge public education campaign was required

      ·   A classification system offering fair competition appeared virtually impossible, largely because no two athletes were alike in their disability.

      ·   Many sports did not seem suitable for people with CP

      ·   Experienced sports technicians were scarce.

      ·   Politics also intruded; ISOD wanted control, on their terms.

      ·   Many countries were unable to provide opportunities for people with CP to take part in and improve their sport. They lacked the understanding, the technical expertise and, in many cases, the money; taking severely disabled athletes to an event is expensive in carers and transport.


      Challenges exist to be met! Many events were held to promote the work and spread the message

      In 1973 Linkoping, Sweden, hosted a seminar on meeting the needs of severely disabled people. International CPGames were staged in London (1974), Montrodat, (1976) and Edinburgh (1978).

      In 1975, the remarkable Arnhem Congress on Motivation of life for severely disabled people, held in the Rehabilitation Centre Johanna Stichting, Het Dorp and the Dutch National Sports Centre, Papendal, attracted 250 delegates, fifty per cent of them with a disability.

      1976 saw an International Wheelchair Dance Festival in London, another initiative of Arthur Edwards, Sports officer of the Spastics Society of England and Wales


      The Committee continued to develop the work and bring in more countries. The strategy was to cooperate with all but be dominated by none. Frustration about its status grew, as it was caught up in political infighting between ICPS and ISOD without being able to speak for itself. Too much time in meetings had to be devoted to politics. ICPS, understandably, had other priorities than sport and leisure, and communication with the Executive remained unsatisfactory despite the efforts of Arie Klapwijk and George Pollock. ISOD had a different philosophy and wished to retain control. Its medical panel’s description of CP sport: “for those who acquired CP in childhood” appeared to eliminate many congenitally disabled people.

      At one stage ICPS and ISOD were taking decisions on the Committee’s future in the absence of any Committee member, and twice the Committee members received invitations from ISOD and ICPS to their own Games! After the Montrodat Games, ISOD set up a CP Medical Panel and a meeting for Team Leaders was held. Some progress was made, both in agreeing two age groups rather than three: 15-18 and over 18, and limiting the number of events an athlete could enter to three plus swimming. However, differences reappeared and stalemate returned.

      The structure of international sport for disabled people was changing; there were already disability specific sports organisations for Deaf (CISS), and Blind (IBSA) people. ISMWF (spinal injured) moved out of ISOD, which then covered Amputees and Les Autres. The Paralympic Movement was beginning to emerge. (In 1982, the founding meeting of the International Coordinating Committee of World Sports organisations for the Disabled (ICC) was convened).

      All these factors led the Committee to consider independence; it would not solve all the problems but at least an independent organisation would be in charge of its own destiny. Several members indicated that they would resign if the status quo remained. The Chairman then resigned and withdrew all support from The Spastics Society, including the services of Arthur Edwards.

      By 1977 relationships with ICPS had broken down. Affiliation to ISOD was discussed but rejected. Lengthy discussions and planning took place over some eighteen months. The need to retain close links with ICPS and ISOD was demonstrated by including them in the new structure.

      At the close of the International CP Games in Edinburgh in July 1978, the Chairman of the Committee, Commander Archie Cameron, announced the birth of CPISRA – Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association; the formal signing of papers was completed in London on September 16. Independence at last!


      CPISRA might not have come into being without the support of ICPS, in particular James and Anita Loring, the Secretary-General and Secretary. They had the faith to nurture a sometimes fractious fledgling and provide it with a structure and resources. Executive members, notably George Pollock and Arie Klapwijk, ensured that this happened.

      The Spastics Society of England and Wales, notably Derek Lancaster-Gaye, seized the inspiration of Arie Klapwijk in Dublin and he led the Group as Chairman until 1977, with superb technical support from Arthur Edwards, the Society’s Sports Officer. Arthur introduced many sports to people with CP.

      Archie Cameron, who took over the Chair in 1977 and guided the Committee with great patience and wisdom towards independence, was a stalwart.

      Nor should we forget our original and continuing inspiration, Arie Klapwijk, who was with the Group from the start and also negotiated delicate issues as a member of ICPS Executive and of the ISOD medical Panel, as well as a respected member of the Committee

      ISOD, especially the inimitable Sir Ludwig Guttmann and the Sports Officer, Charlie Atkinson, provided wise advice and counsel on numerous occasions.

      Many individuals served unstintingly on the Committee and on the technical groups as coaches, medical practitioners, physiotherapists, team leaders, carers and administrators. There are too many to name – they know who they are, and they should view with pride their contribution which played such a significant part in developing the work and bringing CP ISRA into being.

      The main inspiration, however, was the enthusiasm, courage, skill and drive of the athletes and would-be athletes, and those countless people with cerebral palsy who sought motivation for life through leisure and recreation – and found it.

      CP ISRA and today’s athletes thank them all.

      Elizabeth Dendy, Arie Klapwijk
      January 2004

      *Members of the Group/Committee, 1972-1978

      Derek Lancaster-Gaye        England and Wales    1972-77
      Arie Klapwijk                   The Netherlands          1972-78
      Elizabeth Dendy                 England          1972-78
      Leif Sorensen                       Denmark          1973-78
      John Lips                           The Netherlands      1973-77
      Michel Gazeau                   France           1974-78
      Archie Cameron                  Scotland         1974-78
      Giovanna Nigro                  USA              1974-78
      James / Anita Loring          ICPS                   1975-78