|FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin pointed out the social impact of European Basketball Week|
The seventh consecutive Special Olympics European Basketball Week is well underway across the continent and early signs indicate it will be the most successful edition to date, as 15,000 players with intellectual disabilities from 30 countries are participating in a wide range of activities.
The 2010 theme is "Basketball for Everyone", creating 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. The partnership has been so fruitful that Special Olympics basketball players in Europe have increased from 13,000 at that time to 53,000 today.
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.