Over 30 trained during Wheelchair Basketball tournament


Jess Markt, the (ICRC) Disability Sport and Integration Advisor (Photo by Bullen Bala):

By Bullen Bala Alexander.

A Wheelchair Basketball Tournament organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in partnership with the South Sudan Wheelchair Basketball Association (SSWBA) has ended with over 30 new players trained.

The tournament which ended on Saturday was held under the theme: “Believing in the power of sports.”

It was organized to promote the rights of the disabled and advance Wheelchair Basketball in South Sudan.

Speaking during the event at Juba National Basketball Court, Jess Markt who is the ICRC Disability Sport and Integration Advisor and also responsible for training Wheelchair basketball players said the tournament has been successful.

The American Wheelchair Basketball Coach also trains coaches and referees.

It was Markt’s second time in South Sudan. He first came in January 2017 and trained half of the players he was working with.

He came with his assistant, South Sudan born-US based Malat Wei who came to his home country for the first time after 63 years.

“Malat Wei is one of the best players of Wheelchair Basketball in US where he spends his life and Wei’s dream is to come back here to coach Wheelchair Basketball players in South Sudan,” Markt said.

Markt said they trained more than 30 players during the eight-day tournament. He said the players “looked very excited and gained some experience.”

Markt added that the players were doing a great job and they were learning a lot. He stated that he was extremely eager to see how great they can grow over the next year.

However, Markt urged anyone with disability interested in sports to try Wheelchair Basketball.

He called upon the public to always come out to witness and “support such amazing sports because over the years those players are going to become very skillful and can do great things for South Sudan.”

Deng Garang Arol, the Deputy Chairperson of South Sudan Wheelchair Basketball Association (SSWBA) who also has physical disability said he was very proud when playing with his fellow colleagues with disabilities because it unites them.

“You do not look at your colleagues as a tribe or enemies but one people and one South Sudanese,” Mr Deng said.

He thanked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for their efforts in supporting people with disabilities, urging them to continue supporting them.

“Wheelchair Basketball is very nice for us and it is helping us with a lot of things, it makes us to be physically fit and also strong and encourages us not to sit idle, not to drink because of those trainings,” Mr Deng said.

Arol’s message to colleagues with disabilities is that they should come to join and contribute in Wheelchair Basketball.

He called upon people with disabilities not to give up in life for being disabled, saying disability is not inability. “A disabled can earn a living through such sports,” he concluded.

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