|"Special Olympics Basketball Week is hugely important..." stated FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin|
The eighth consecutive Special Olympics European Basketball Week is well underway across the continent and there are clear signs for the constant growth of the event.
Supported by FIBA Europe, as well as national federations and clubs all over Europe a record participation of more than 17,000 athletes was registered, assisted by 5,000 volunteers and 3,000 families in 32 European countries.
Being one of the highlights in the calendar, the Special Olympics European Basketball Week in helping immensely in achieving the long-term goal of 60,000 registered basketball players in Europe.
The theme "Basketball for Everyone" represents the European Basketball Week's ambition to create an opportunity for more children to join the sports experience.
Particular emphasis is given to "Unified Basketball", where players with and without intellectual disabilities play together in one team. The experience allows participants to develop sports skills, build friendships and exhibit courage and confidence.
The European Basketball Week is the flagship event of the FIBA Europe-Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) partnership, which began in May 2004.
Basketball is the third most popular sport in the Special Olympic movement with more than 53,000 athletes currently registered in Europe/Eurasia.
In a letter addressed to all National Federations, FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin pointed out the wider social importance of the event: "FIBA Europe is happy to continue its endorsement of Basketball Week as part of our commitment to develop basketball for everyone in society to enjoy.
"Special Olympics European Basketball Week is hugely important because sport plays an integral role in society and touches many people in a highly positive and participatory way. Special Olympics uses sport as a catalyst to change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and to promote respect, acceptance and inclusion", the Secretary General concluded.
As part of the partnership, FIBA Europe has involved National Federations and professional clubs, providing officials, conducting clinics and endorsing Special Olympics events.