Eurobasket 2011 Showcases Talents of Special Olympics Athletes

September 13, 2011

The second round of EuroBasket 2011 taking place in Lithuania this week will not only display some of the best of European basketball talent but also the power of the game to change lives as players with intellectual disabilities take to centre court during the half-time of Lithuania – France match interval on Friday, September 9th


Lithuanian Stars Play Match with Special Olympics athletes during half-time interval

September 12th, 2011 – Dublin, Ireland: – The second round of EuroBasket 2011 which took place in Lithuania not only displayed some of the best of European basketball talent but also the power of the game to change lives as players with intellectual disabilities took to centre court during the half-time of Lithuania – France match interval on Friday, September 9th

These Special Olympics athletes were joined by Lithuanian basketball legends Gediminas Budnikas and Virginijus Jankauskas as well as celebrated Lithuanian singer NojusBartaska-Bartas in what was an exciting joyful exhibition of skill, courage and pure love of the game.

“We are very excited to again use the platform of EuroBasket 2011 to promote our partnership with Special Olympics” said Nar Zanolin, Secretary General of FIBA Europe. “Here we have an opportunity to demonstrate to the thousands of spectators the power basketball has for teaching skills that transcend the court, boosting confidence and providing joy to the special athletes as well as transforming our own perceptions. We get the chance to see these individuals not for their disabilities but for their abilities. FIBA  looks forward to continuing and developing this initiative for years to come.”

The  initiative is all  part of FIBA Europe’s continued efforts with Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports programme for people with intellectual disabilities, to promote more opportunities in the game for players with intellectual disabilities while at the same time changing attitudes and promoting respect, acceptance and inclusion.

Since FIBA Europe established a partnership with Special Olympics in May 2004, the number of Special Olympics basketball players in the Europe/Eurasia region has increased from 13,000 to almost 53,000 players.  One of the highlights of the partnership has been the involvement of national basketball federations and professional clubs.

EuroBasket 2011 took place in six Lithuanian cities from 31 August to 18 September with 24 nations participating; this biennial competition sees the elite of European basketball compete for the Champion title.

About Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia (SOEE)
There are approximately 26.5 million people with an intellectual disability in the Europe/Eurasia region. 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 3,7 million athletes worldwide, in more than 170 countries train and compete in 33 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.
SOEE works with half a million athletes in 58 countries across Europe and Eurasia, providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

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 opportunities for elite-level athletes with disabilities.

For more information, contact: Maureen Rabbitt at
Maureen Rabbitt
Communications Director, SOEE
T: 01 6755715 / 087 786 6001

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