|A Special Olympics athlete participating in a game earlier this year|
The 10th Special Olympics European Basketball Week came to a successful conclusion last Sunday 8 December.
An estimated 18,000 Special Olympics athletes participated in 200 basketball events, games, clinics and exhibitions across 33 countries.
The European Basketball Week 2013 also included celebrations of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which fell on 3 December.
The 2013 edition of the flagship event of the FIBA Europe-Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) partnership commenced on 30 November.
The event put particular focus on encouraging more female athletes with intellectual disabilities to participate in Special Olympics basketball, with endorsement from FIBA Europe and in partnership with Euroleague Basketball and One Team.
Fans who attended 24 Turkish Airlines Euroleague games during that period, which included Game Days 6 and 7 of the Regular Season, were introduced to basketball athletes of the Special Olympics, who were given the opportunity to present themselves to a wide audience and speak about the importance of basketball in their lives.
Prior to tip-off at these Euroleague games, the Special Olympics athletes shared the court with some of the most famous players in European basketball, which donned the Special Olympics symbol on their jerseys.
Activities such as this aimed in engaging the greater European basketball community to promote more opportunities in the game for people with intellectual disabilities.
Today in Europe 57,954 athletes, including 19,129 female athletes, are registered as basketball players.
The goal set was to reach 60,000 players by the end of the calendar year and the European Basketball Week provided an enormous boost in that direction.
To put this figure in context, prior to the 1st European Basketball Week, which took place in 2004, the number of registered athletes in Europe was approximately 15,000.
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Special Olympics with close to half a million players worldwide, who compete at local, national, European and World levels.
All players with intellectual disability of all ability levels who meet the age requirements are welcomed.