Special Olympics Basketball Festival In Rhodes

26 May 2004

FIBA Europe and the Special Olympics have officially sealed their partnership agreement. In order to sign the agreement, FIBA Europe Executive Director Nar Zanolin visited the Special Olympics Festival, which took place on the Greek island of Rodos, 14th – 21st May 2004.

The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and provides training and competition for individuals with mental handicaps of all ability levels.

Basketball is one of the most popular sports within the Special Olympics with close to 13,000 players taking part in Europe. It was also one of 3 sports, along with swimming and cycling, on the programme at the Special Olympics Festival.

Basketball competitions were held for male, female and unified (i.e. mixed teams with mentally handicapped and non handicapped players) teams. All competitions were “divisioned” in order to create fair and equal competition.

Following the final game, a Protocol of Collaboration was completed between FIBA Europe and Special Olympics. The document was signed by Nar Zanolin, Joanna Despotopoulou President of Special Olympics Hellas and Michael Smith, Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe / Eurasia.

The goal of the co-operation between FIBA Europe and Special Olympics is:

 To expand women’s basketball
 To establish the unified basketball category
 To recruit and train new coaches
 To create a network of Special Olympics Co-ordinators
 To involve FIBA Europe’s national federations in the development of basketball for the mentally handicapped.

presentation of the signed protocol

In addition, FIBA Europe will assist Special Olympics in establishing a European Basketball Week, in which national federations will be encouraged to host events to promote basketball for the mentally handicapped. The first European Basketball Week will be held in December 2004.

“We want to give everyone in Europe the possibility to play basketball,” said Mr. Zanolin.

“We are very proud to develop our relationship with Special Olympics so that even more people can enjoy this fantastic game.”

For more information on the cooperation between FIBA Europe and Special Olympics, please contact Natalie Sandmann on

Follow Us On Twitter

Like Us On Facebook