FIBA Europe to support the inaugural Special Olympics European Basketball Week

15 November 2004
Special Olympics basketball events aim to bring new opportunities to players with mental handicaps

FIBA Europe will support Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE) during the first Special Olympics European Basketball Week to be held November 24-December 4, 2004 across the region.

SOEE will organize basketball activities during the week throughout the region – from tournaments to clinics to exhibition matches – and involve thousands of children and adults and male and female players with mental handicaps.

Basketball Week is the flagship event of the FIBA Europe-SOEE partnership that was established in May 2004 with the signing of an agreement of cooperation to develop basketball for players with mental handicaps.  Currently, there are about 13,000 Special Olympics basketball players in Europe/Eurasia.  Through the partnership, SOEE aims to bring opportunities to 15,000 new players by 2006. 

"Professional basketball players – past and present – are among the greatest sports role models and their skill, boldness and ‘bigger than life’ presence on court dazzles everyone who watches them,” said Michael Smith, managing director, SOEE.

“For this reason, we hope European clubs will consider getting involved in a Special Olympics event during Basketball Week.  It is a great way to bring together everyone in the basketball world – from big-name to grassroots clubs – in support of a worthy cause,” he added.   

“FIBA Europe supports the Special Olympics Basketball Week.  It is a great way to get even more people excited about the sport that embraces players and spectators in an inclusive and exciting way,” said Nar Zanolin, executive director, FIBA Europe.

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 mental handicaps.  More than 1 million athletes in over 150 countries train and compete in 26 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 mental handicaps of all ability levels.  Paralympics provides sports opportunities for elite-level athletes with physical or mental handicaps. 

For more information, contact:  Martha Jo Braycich, Communications Director, at



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