(8 November, 2007, Brussels, Belgium) – FIBA Europe will endorse Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) for the fourth consecutive year during the Special Olympics European Basketball Week to be held 24 November-2 December 2007 across the region. Basketball Week is expected to involve 13,000 basketball players with intellectual disabilities from 30 countries in a wide range of activities.
This year, the theme of the week will be on “New Coach Recruitment and Cooperation with Universities.” The theme aims to highlight to university students and teachers the value that basketball has as a socialization tool for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Basketball Week hopes to attract 50 participating universities and 200 new basketball coaches.
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 40,000 players. One of the highlights of the partnership has been the involvement of national basketball federations and professional clubs.
“FIBA Europe continues to endorse the Special Olympics European Basketball Week as part of our commitment to show the intrinsic value of sports at all levels of society,” said Nar Zanolin, Secretary General, FIBA Europe.
“We are delighted that FIBA Europe and the national basketball federations and professional clubs continue to support Special Olympics players through initiatives like Basketball Week that lead to more acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities,” said Michael Smith, Managing Director, SOEE. “At the same time, this year’s theme of coach recruitment is crucial to Special Olympics being able to develop grassroots opportunities for players with intellectual disabilities.”
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 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.