The first ever European Unified Youth Basketball Tournament will take place in Sansepolcro, Italy in October 2022. The tournament will see male and female players with and without intellectual disabilities compete together from 13 to 17 October. In total, 24 teams from 16 countries across around Europe will take part in the tournament, which is part of a year-long project awarded funding by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (EU).
Not only will the project aim to improve basketball coaching and provide equal opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, it will also promote volunteerism, social inclusion, gender equality and grassroots community engagement.
The tournament will also come just ahead of Special Olympics European Basketball Week 2022. In the months leading up to the tournament, athletes and coaches alike will have the opportunity to build the teams, improve skills with a variety of kick-off events, as well as regular training sessions, workshops and seminars. One key aim is to expand the Unified Sports concept—where players with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete side by side—in particular for basketball players aged 14 to 30 years.
While the tournament will certainly be a major highlight of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia’s annual celebration of the power of sport, the impact of the project will outlive any single event. A key legacy will be the creation of 70 Unified youth basketball teams across Europe that will go on to regularly train and compete together. This in turn will offer each country a far wider pool of Unified players for future pan-European and international events such a World Games.