Ezra Frech, left and Clayton Frech spoke at the UTS World Youth Festival ©UTS

Clayton Frech has a smile filled with pride every time he mentions Angel City Sports.

The non-profit organisation that celebrates adaptive and Paralympic sports may not be the most well-know one out there, but its growth and impact since being established in 2013 in California is more than one can imagine.

So much so that, the organisation has been collaborating with the Los Angeles 2028 Organising Committee since 2015. And now, the city has PlayLA - an initiative launched by LA28 and the International Olympic Committee to make sports more accessible to kids in the area.

It all started when Frech's son Ezra, a Tokyo 2020 Paralympian, was born.

Missing a knee, fibula and fingers on his left hand from birth, Frech was initially inconsolable.

But it was not because Ezra was born with disabilities.

A sports enthusiast and an avid surfer, the thought of not being able to play sports with his son was what upset Frech.

But that all changed when Frech met a Brazilian amputee surfer named "the pirate".

"I just didn’t know much about this world back then," Frech recalls.

"So, a few months later, I started to reach out to people who were doing amputee surfing.

"But the real trigger for Angel City Sports happened when I went to the Endeavour Games in Oklahoma."

Ezra Frech participated at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics ©Getty Images
Ezra Frech participated at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics ©Getty Images

It was at that event when Ezra fell in love with track and field.

"But it was too expensive, and I was wondering how can everyone afford this and wanted to create something similar in LA," Frech continued.

A few months later, the Angel City Sports and its flagship competition, the Angel City Games, was born.  

"It is an event that lets you train and compete," Frech said.

"We do about 20 sports a year.

"We are trying to change the game and raise awareness.

"We want to train and educate volunteers for LA28.

"My vision for the Angel City Games in 2028 is to be able to offer all the Paralympic sports on the programme."

The non-profit that offers young adults with physical disabilities a platform to train and compete has many unique approaches to it strategy.

One of them is to invite Paralympians and medallists to coach the youngsters.

"We are inviting Paralympians, current and former, to coach with us," Frech said.

"Rudy Garcia-Tolson, two-time Paralympic swimming champion did a session with us.

"It helps to have these champions as it creates a better cultural environment for the athletes."

Over the years, the organisation has worked with Los Angeles 2028 to help grow adaptive and Paralympic sports. 

"They have come out and supported a lot of our events.

"I attended Rio 2016 with the Bid Committee at the time.  

"We were sort of like an advisor, as a community partner, and were trying to grow the adaptive sports movement and there was no one else doing that in Southern California with so many sports in the area.

"Mayor [Eric] Garcetti is very supportive and connected with us.

"He even speaks at our events.   

"It is exciting to see the growth of the movement in Los Angeles, especially with the PlayLA initiative and we are collaborating with them as well.

"They are doing a great job and we want to offer more help for the initiative."

The father-son duo founded Angel City Sports ©UTS
The father-son duo founded Angel City Sports ©UTS

Angel City Sports' Cayton and Ezra have offered to support the International Paralympic Committee and its President Andrew Parsons to grow the movement globally.

"They wanted to know what we were doing in LA," Clayton said.

With a home Games approaching in six years' time, Ezra, who proudly calls himself a "product" of the non-profit, hopes to see the organisation grow into a much bigger initiative for Paralympic sports.

"I am the co-founder and the target audience," he said.

"That's not common.

"I am involved behind the scenes and I also get to be on the ground with the kids and see the reactions of things we do.

"I am proud of how the organisation has grown."

Here at the 2022 UTS World Youth Festival, Ezra and his parents Clayton and Bahar are doing exactly as back home - promoting Paralympic sports and inspiring the many children who have gathered from all corners of the world.

In the years to come, they want to keep working on making a difference.