The Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfrid Lemke and the President of IWBF (International Wheelchair Basketball Federation), Ulf Mehrens, have signed a ‘Letter of intent’ in Bremen, Germany today. The content is the declaration of intent to think, to plan and possibly to realise projects on the basis of a partnership.

IWBF President Ulf Mehrens said, “The network of both partners will certainly contribute to its success. The objectives of the regions will be evaluated in annual meetings. The cooperation supports the objectives of IWBF’s politics.

“Besides all of the objectives for competitive sport it also enhances our special focus on the social impact of the sport including quality improvement and expansion of living conditions by the means of sports. At this point both sides have varied projects worldwide. So we are proud to be able to partner and share the collective idea.’

The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) which is based in Geneva and supported by a Liaison Office in New York is one of the most important organisations in the world, and they use the medium of sport to provide a profound basis upon which people with and without disabilities can come closer to each other. IWBF pursue the same ambitions and in the past they have delivered number of important projects to do this. So a collaboration of interests makes perfect sense to have the chance to support and establish common projects in a sustainable manner.

UNOSDP Special Adviser Mr. Wilfrid Lemke also shares this opinion and is delighted about the agreement of cooperation. He finds it very important as a UN adviser that IWBF not only respects the top funding but also opens their minds to new ideas. After the signing he said, “The idea of working together came to us, more or less, during my visit in Uganda half a year ago. It seemed a nice and interesting story especially because it’s one we can gain experience from and emulate it for other countries where it hasn’t been developed yet. I’m very interested in these things.’ “

Furthermore Mr. Lemke confirmed it also highlights the Sustainable Development goal No 17, with which they request the world to work as fair partners together to protect the success that they want to achieve within the sustainable field. “The Uganda project is a good example for this. It is good development. In ideal case we can even manage that people from Uganda will be trained to repairs the wheelchairs themselves; so that the broken or slightly broken wheelchairs will not be put aside. If this works it would be the additional topping of the project to help give people jobs – independently of the athletes that already have the support for their enthusiasm and naturally the coaches whom we also want to give employment contracts.’

The UN has already been working closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in ensuring that they unite their efforts to improve societies through sport.

An ideal goal for the partnership is to establish wheelchair sport as a therapeutic exercise with the focus on a feeling of togetherness, to revive the discussion about regional efforts to foster inclusion. As well as create new structures which can be self stained without support.

Despite the fact that there are more than 100 member nations of IWBF you can find many white spots on the world map still. These have to be tackled strategically, explains Ulf Mehrens. Therefore they need logistical and administrative work input. Full-time jobs are absolutely crucial to be able to create these sustainable structure. Thus the individual zones need massive support.

Mr. Lemke is extremely excited by wheelchair basketball and thinks that the sport is a prime example of the Paralympic Games. He hopes that this specific project will be managed so well that other partners from other countries and national associations, as well as IWBF will be able to receive grants for wheelchair basketball. Together with sponsors, organisations and member states of the UN. He said, “My hope is if others support national teams, the participation at Paralympic Games will be greater than it already is in the field of wheelchair basketball.”

President of IWBF, Ulf Mehrens, reaffirmed this and said, “Do good and talk about it – this company will support the work in the future. We will offer the content of the projects to a wide audience of politicians and the media. Therefore we set up our communication department. At the individual places, naturally we will decide if the common work has been useful.”