"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.