9th February 2022

I’m delighted to be taking over from the irrepressible Bridget Meyer in this role. I am indebted to Bridget for introducing me ‘proper’ to IFAPA and bringing me into this fantastic network of scholars and practitioners in adapted physical activity. My interest in disability and sport has been sharpened through my background as a coach working across the disability sport pathway in the UK, from grassroots and community disability sport through to disability performance pathways. I have worked with a range of athletes with various physical, sensory, neurodevelopmental and intellectual impairments, and I was privileged to be a member of the coaching staff in the England disability cricket performance pathway for two years prior to moving to New Zealand. Since then, my interest has shifted towards coach education and development and the need to ensure practitioners are knowledgeable and well-equipped to work with people with a diverse range of needs.  

Robert Townsend
  • I am a Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching and Pedagogy at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. The thematic focus of work is on disability sport and sport coaching, and I currently head up the Disability, Sport and Active Recreation Research group at the University of Waikato which focuses on developing programmes of research in partnership with the disability sport sector. I am a member of the VIRTUS scientific advisory committee (VASCOM), and I currently sit on an international advisory board for the International Council for Coaching Excellence related to coaching in disability sport. Furthermore, I have provided consultancy to the European Paralympic Committee on disability coach education. I am also on the editorial board of the International Sport Coaching Journal.  

Dr Robert Townsend

20th February 2020

Kia ora,
My name is Bridget Meyer and I am the recently appointed Regional Representative for Oceania. I am stepping into the very large shoes of Dr Peter Downs who has been involved with the Federation since the late 1980’s both as Vice President and then as the Oceania Regional Representative. I have long held Dr Downs work in high regard and am delighted to be nominated to take on this role.

Bridget Meyer

My introduction to the work of IFAPA was in the early 2000’s although this stepped up a level when New Zealand were looking to host the International Symposium of Adapted Physical Activity in 2011. However, the earthquake in Christchurch meant the symposium was relocated to Paris at the eleventh hour. This for me was an opportunity to travel to France to present a paper on an Adaptive Sport Mentoring programme that is delivered in collaboration with the University of Otago along with a poster presentation and short film on Adaptive Outdoor Recreation.

My career pathway within the world of disability and disability sport has spanned 25 years. I am a practitioner first and foremost with an ever-growing interest in academic research. I believe the worlds of both practitioner and academic can guide and complement one another to ensure best practice is developed and delivered. I have a Bachelor of Social Services majoring in Disability Studies and a Master of Professional Practice – Sociology.

Bridge Halberg and Riley

Adapted Physical Activity continues to gain a profile throughout Oceania although the speed of which this happens varies from country to country. I have a good overview of what is happening within New Zealand in terms of APA research however am excited to be in a position now to take a deep dive and learn more from our neighbors in both Australia and the islands. Over the past 6 six years I have been travelling to Tonga to deliver adaptive sports days as well as professional development for staff at The Mango Tree Centre. I see this now as an opportunity to build further relationships and share information on the work of the Federation.

My current role is .8 (4 days) as a Lead Adviser for the Halberg Foundation covering the Otago/Southland region which is located at the bottom half of the South Island of New Zealand. The Foundation’s purpose is to enhance the lives of physically disabled New Zealanders by enabling them to participate in sport and recreation. I work in schools at a regional level running inclusive education programmes for teachers and students as well as leading the Foundation in several national projects including our adaptive recreation and youth council programmes. I also work .2 (1 day) for the Ministry of Education providing professional development for Teacher Aides who work alongside students with very high and complex support needs.

In my spare time (which doesn’t seem to be that much!) I very much enjoy wandering up river beds with my fly rod. Coming home with a fish is a bonus!
If you’d like more information please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Bridget Meyer

Hi, my name is Peter Downs and I am the IFAPA regional representative for Oceania. ‘Oceania’ is quite a broad term that generally refers to countries around Australia and the South Pacific. Oceania includes Australia, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, all of Micronesia, parts of the Philippines islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. So it’s a big region!

Peter Downs

I have been involved in disability sport, inclusive sport and adapted physical activity for 27 years. Back in the early 2000’s I was Vice President of IFAPA for a few years but have been involved with IFAPA from my early days as a student on the European Masters Degree in Adapted Physical Activity in the late 1980’s. Nowadays, I am Manager of Play by the Rules – a national government and non-government supported program that supports safe, fair and inclusive sport. In my ‘extra’ time I am also founding Director of The Inclusion Club – a non-profit health promotion charity that shares models of good practice in sport and recreation for people with disability.


In Oceania the discipline of Adapted Physical Activity is hardly known. That’s not to say there has not been a lot of activity in the field of APA – there has. There have been major national government supported programs in Australia, through the Australian Sports Commission and New Zealand, through the Halberg Trust, for many years and, in more recent times, the Australian Sports Outreach Program has seen development in a number of countries in the South Pacific, most notably in Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Perhaps where the region has not been so strong is in the area of research, although the University of Queensland has been very active for many years with some world leading research into classification systems.

Work in APA has had a very strong practical sport focus, with many national governing bodies of sport driving inclusive sport programs via policy and educational models that are widely accepted as part of core business. This is particularly the case in Australia and New Zealand. In Fiji too there has been very positive cooperation between sport, recreation and disability sector agencies to bring about positive outcomes for people with disability. This work has been further enhanced by the signing of a government supported National Inclusive Sport Policy.

So, Oceania is forging ahead in the many diverse areas of adapted physical activity. If you would like to find out more please contact me direct:

Peter Downs