2011 European Basketball Week Records Highest Participation Rate to Date

 Backed by FIBA Europe & Euroleague, Special Olympics European Basketball Week opens more opportunities for players with intellectual disabilities

Friday, December 02, 2011 – The eight European Basketball Week by Special Olympics is celebrating record numbers this year as it aims to expand more opportunities for adults and children with intellectual disabilities while promoting respect and inclusion for everyone in the Game.  Participation is expected to increase tomorrow (Saturday, December 3rd), on the penultimate day of 2011 European Basketball Week (EBW) as the world marks International Day of People with Intellectual Disabilities. 

Running from November 24th to December 4th and supported by FIBA Europe, Euroleague as well as basketball clubs and federations across Europe, 2011 European Basketball Week has recorded participation to date  of 17,000 registered athletes, 10,000 spectators, 5,000 volunteer, and 3,000 family members across 32 countries.

Under the theme “Basketball for Everyone”, some of the highlights for 2011 EBW so far include:

  • Euroleague Basketball  dedicated 24 Euroleague matches to Special Olympics throughout weeks six and seven of the Euroleague 2011-12 regular season (November 23-24 and November 30-December 1).   Prior to the games Euroleague players warmed up wearing Special Olympics t-shirts and laces and the captains of competing teams addressed the fans before tip off on basketball on the importance of respect and acceptance so all can enjoy the game of basketball.
  • Throughout the week more than 220 local and regional events have taken place across European cities and towns with more than 20 national tournaments. 
  • On December 1st in Anacona, Italy, tournaments and clinics for Special Olympics athletes were organised with professional basketball players from the Globo Anacona team. 
  • Players from APOEL professional basketball team in Nicosia, Cyprus held a one day tournament with athletes conducting skill tests and activities.
  • On November 22nd professional basketball team Virtus Roma hosted a Come and Try Unified Basketball press conference in Rome, inviting media and general public to play basketball on the same team with players with intellectual disabilities and enjoy friendship with their team mates.
  • Special Olympics launched their Basketball Player Grading Tool DVD to assist national programmes in Europe in grading players according to ability.

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 from 53,000 to 60,000 and 600 additional volunteer coaches by 2012. 

According to Nar Zanolin, Secretary General, FIBA Europe; “FIBA Europe is happy to continue it’s endorsement of European Basketball Week as part of our commitment to develop basketball for everyone in society to enjoy”.  Zanolin has encouraged National Basketball Federations across Europe to get involved saying; “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.  Through the joy of sport everyday, Special Olympics transforms  the lives of people with intellectual disabilities while promoting respect, acceptance and inclusion for everyone.”

Special Olympics is the world’s largest year-round sports programme for people with intellectual disabilities.  The movement serves 3.4 million athletes with intellectual disabilities across 170 countries.


For further information please contact:
Maureen Rabbitt
Communications Director
Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia
+353 1 6755 716