2011 European Basketball Week Promotes Basketball for Everyone

Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia is proud to announce that the European Basketball community is once again throwing its full support behind the eight annual Special Olympics European Basketball Week taking place from November 24th to December 4th 2011.

The aim of this week is to promote and expand opportunities for adults and children with intellectual disabilities through basketball, while breaking down barriers to inclusion and acceptance.

Basketball Federations and clubs across Europe through the dedication and support of FIBA Europe and Euroleague are supporting this annual event which involves 17,000 athletes, 10,000 spectators, 5,000 volunteers and 3,000 families in 32 European countries.  Special Olympics European Basketball Week is one of the highlights of the year- round event calendar and is part of Special Olympics ongoing commitment to increase the number of registered basketball players in Europe to 60,000 and 600 additional volunteer coaches by 2012. 

Once again the theme for 2011 is “Basketball for Everyone” because European Basketball Week is about creating opportunities and promoting widespread participation of players with and without intellectual disabilities at all ability levels through Unified Basketball®.   Another particular emphasis of the week will be International Day of People with Disabilities which falls within the week on December 3rd and is dedicated to children under 15 years of age.

Over 220 local and regional events are taking place across European cities and towns and more than 20 national tournaments.  Clinics with professional players, coaches and referees will be key events of the week.  As part of their commitment to Special Olympics, Euroleague Basketball will also dedicate 24 Euroleague matches in November and December to promote Special Olympics.

Partnership with Special Olympics forms part of the Euroleague for Life corporate responsibility programme.  “We are very proud to offer our platform to raise awareness and support for Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia.  Special Olympics athletes remind us of the true joy of the game and so they are an inspiration to the rest of the European basketball community.” – Jordi Bertomeu Euroleague CEO.

Special Olympics European Basketball Week is the flagship event of the FIBA Europe and Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia partnership initiated in 2004. 

“FIBA Europe is happy to continue it’s 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 and 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.” – Nar Zanolin, Secretary General, FIBA Europe.

Basketball is the third most popular sport in the Special Olympics movement with over 53,000 athletes currently registered as basketball players in Europe/Eurasia.  The support and generosity of the European Union is an integral part of our determination to increase the number of registered players in Europe/Eurasia .

“Sport can make a difference in everybody’s life, regardless of age.  It gives us more energy and helps us to live more active lives.  In an ageing society, it is important to help people to remain healthy longer.  Sport is good for the body and soul: as the ancient Romans and Greeks used to say, ‘a healthy mind is a healthy body.’  Sport also has a very important social role.  By helping to create a ‘level playing field’ among communities, it supports integration and defies discrimination.  I know this is a priority for the Special Olympics movement and it is one that I share wholeheartedly. “ – Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Sport.

“Basketball Week is possible through the generosity and vision of Euroleague, FIBA Europe and the European Union of which we are deeply grateful.  It is a hugely important week in the Special Olympics calendar with basketball being one of the most popular sports among our athletes.  Because of its mass appeal basketball brings those with and without intellectual disabilities together, breaking down barriers, changing attitudes and opening minds to the gifts and talents of people with intellectual disabilities.  Basketball has the power to change lives.”- Mary Davis, MD Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest year-round sports programme for people with intellectual disabilities.  The movement serves 3.7 million athletes with intellectual disabilities across 170 countries.

Download the Special Olympics European Basketball Week 2011 Brochure here.