FIBA Europe will endorse Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) for the fifth consecutive year during the Special Olympics European Basketball Week to be held 29 November-7 December 2008 across the region.
Basketball Week is expected to involve 15,000 basketball players with intellectual disabilities from 35 countries in a wide range of activities.
This year, the focus of the week will be on bringing players with and without intellectual disabilities together on the court. Players of all ability levels will be invited to participate in local, regional and national competitions. This highly inclusive and participatory focus is expected to include continued involvement from National Basketball Federations and professional clubs. Coach training sessions will also be a component of the week.
Basketball Week is the flagship event of the FIBA Europe-Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) partnership that was established in May 2004 with the aim of developing basketball for players with intellectual disabilities. Since then, the number of Special Olympics players in the region has increased from 13,000 to almost 45,000 players. One of the highlights of the partnership continues to be the involvement of national basketball federations and professional clubs.
"FIBA Europe is delighted to continue to support Special Olympics players during initiatives like Basketball Week because they lead to more awareness about and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities," said Nar Zanolin, Secretary General, FIBA Europe.
Special Olympics, founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is the world's largest year-round program of sports training and competitions for individuals with intellectual disabilities. More than 2.5 million athletes in over 165 countries train and compete in 30 Olympic-style summer and winter sports at local, national and international events. Through its sports programs, Special Olympics strives to provide long-term benefits to individuals' health, self-esteem and social integration.
Special Olympics and the Paralympics are two separate organizations recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Special Olympics provides sports opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities of all ability levels. Paralympics provides sports opportunities for elite-level athletes with disabilities.
For more information, contact: Martha Jo Braycich, communications director, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia, at mjbraycichSOEE@compuserve.com.