Sport for Equality Role Models: Nina Portolan

Sport for equality role models in ENGSO's new campaign, led by the Equality Within Sport Committee. The aim of the initiative is to highlight the exceptional work our role models are doing in promoting and supporting equal and inclusive communities in sport, and to raise awarness on the daily challenges they are facing.

Equality in sports, for me, means that everyone who wants to take part in it has the same opportunities to do so, regardless of age, gender, race, disability or if they choose to participate in a professional or recreational capacity. As a disabled woman in sports, I see it as a tool for building confidence and identity, which allows all athletes, not only those from marginalised communities, to become self advocates and advance sports, with the support structures being built in a way that allows us to do so as well.

Nina Portolan

Nina Portolan is a 26-year-old University student, parakarate athlete, and disability and Human Rights activist from Belgrade, Serbia. 


She has been speaking at different national and international events on the topics of youth, women, and disabled people in sports since 2018. The effects are seen in the increased numbers of disabled children and especially girls involved in sports in Serbia, as well as changing attitudes.


Nina has been a member of the Board of Directors in the Sports Association of Persons with Disabilities of Belgrade (SSOSIB) since 2021 and achieved her highest athletic achievement the same year, winning 3rd place at the European Karate and Parakarate Championships in Poreč, Croatia. She has been a member of the national parakarate team since 2018. At the European Karate and Parakarate Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia, held the same year, she placed fourth and has won over 10 gold medals in other regional competitions and tournaments since then.


In 2020, Nina was an European Solidarity Corps volunteer at the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) office in Brussels. While there, she formulated and conducted the first Independent Living Survey, looking into access to Personal Assistance and Independent Living across Council of Europe member states. She also provided contributions and assisted in formulating position papers regarding children, education, and sports. In 2021, Nina received a scholarship and attended the 12th International Disability Law Summer School” with the topic “Access to Culture, Recreation, Leisure, and Sport for People with Disabilities”. These activities solidified her place as an activist and as a voice of disabled athletes.


Currently, Nina is a member of the ENIL Youth Network and represents the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) within the European Disability Forum (EDF) Youth Committee.

My favourite sport is karate, the one I practice, because of the values it teaches. The Bushido code of conduct teaches honour, respect and integrity, among other things, and all martial artists should follow it. Because of this unique foundation, I especially deeply respect and admire all other martial arts as well.

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