Ethiopia: “Playing wheelchair basketball becomes an orbit of my happiness”

  • Francois Friedel (standing left with the ICRC badge), Yoseph Hailemariam (3rd from Francois), invited guests and players during the opening ceremony of the 5th National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament held in Addis Ababa. Francois said, “The ICRC supports the provision of prosthesis, orthoses or wheelchair to PWDs to retrieve their mobility that allow them to be part of the society.”
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Alemtsehay Paulos, vice president of the Ethiopian Wheelchair Basketball Association introducing herself to the players before the tournament began.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Teams with female members from Addis Ababa and South Ethiopia regions compete to make a basket during the opening of the competition.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Lisanework (left) and his team members warming up before their match begins.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Anchinesh Nebret (front) from Addis Ababa Team, alongside her team members, taking a break. “I completely forget myself right after I enter the basketball court and concentrate fully on the game. I can say I fall in love with this game for it makes me very happy and has helped me make many friends,” Anchinesh remarked.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Teams from Amhara (with orange jersey) and from Dire Dawa (with blue jersey) in fierce competition to score a basket.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Coach Tilahun (Amhara team) imparting instructions to his team members prior to the competition.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Resting players and fans expressing support to teams competing on the court.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Wheelchair basket players accorded a warm welcome to Jess (centre), the ICRC's disability sport and inclusion advisor, who appeared during the competition. Jess, who has significantly contributed to the development of wheelchair basketball in Ethiopia, came to the country to provide professional training to team members.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • The ICRC head of delegation in Ethiopia, Julien Lerisson (centre) alongside Alemtsehay introducing themselves to the finalists.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • The winning female and male teams from Amhara region prepare to receive trophies and other prizes.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
  • Members of the winning teams celebrating their victory.
    Alemayehu TAKELE/ICRC
18 November 2019

"Playing wheelchair basketball became an orbit of my happiness. It gives me great pleasure and builds my confidence. I would like to thank the ICRC for inspiring and encouraging us (disabled persons) to enjoy the benefits of this sport by providing us with all the necessary support."

The remark was made by Lisanework Sisay, a wheelchair basketball player at the 5th National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament held in Addis Ababa from 12 to 17 November 2019.

Five female and six male teams of persons with physical disabilities (PWDs) representing Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Amhara, Oromia, Southern Ethiopia and Tigray regions took part in the tournament. In his opening remark, Yoseph Hailemariam, treasurer of the newly established Ethiopian Wheelchair Basketball Association, expressed appreciation of the ICRC, Ethiopian Basketball Federation, Ethiopian Paralympics Committee and Ethiopian Sport Commission for their continued material and technical support which he said had helped wheelchair basketball to reach at this stage.

Solomon Berhanu is a physiotherapist and the person responsible for social inclusion at the ICRC. "Some five years ago when wheelchair basketball was at its infancy, there were only a limited number player. Thanks to the sustainable promotion of the sport, their number has significantly increased now," he said. He added, "Most female and male players demonstrated their skills and abilities acquired through continuous training sessions and practices in this competition better than the previous tournaments. This raises our hope that competent teams, representing Ethiopia in international competition, will emerge soon."

Amhara team won the trophy in female competition followed by Addis Ababa. Also the team from Amhara region stood first in male competition. Trophies and other prizes were handed over to winners and best players.

Meanwhile, the national wheelchair basketball team, consisting of females and male, was formed after members were selected by Jess Markt, the ICRC's disability sport and inclusion advisor. The team members will receive a five-day advanced training to prepare them for international tournaments.

Wheelchair basketball was initiated in Ethiopia since 2014 mainly with the support of the ICRC.