Last week, sixty-four women aged between 17 through to 51, took part in a wheelchair basketball women’s development camp run by IWBF Asia Oceania zone in Chon Buri, Thailand.

The initiative, which was supported by the Agitos Foundation, Asian Paralympic Committee and World Wheelchair Express Foundation, was extremely well received and saw women from a range of countries take part including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Jordan, Japan, Korea, Laos, Nepal, Oman and Thailand.

The camp was also hugely supported by the Thailand Wheelchair Basketball Federation. They helped provide transport, meals, water and social time, as well as players from their men’s team who helped supply and maintain wheelchairs for participants.

The camp was led by world class coaches Irene Sloof from the Netherlands and Ines Lopes from Sweden, who ensured that the players both learnt and developed as players and also enjoyed every moment of the camp.

IWBF Asia Oceania Secretary General, Don Perriman, said “If we can evaluate a programme on the smile factor alone this camp has been a raging success. I don’t think I have seen so many happy women in one place since my daughter’s school days. Having said that, they are so very focused on their training and have really put in a fantastic effort. Even in such a short amount of time we have seen a noticeable change in most of the participants, with more intensity and a discernible lift in their skill level – even though it is over 30 degrees and in the 90’s humidity.”

As well as the players, there were also sixteen coaches who attended to support the camp and gain coaching tips to take back to their own sessions.

Raj Kumar, a coach from Nepal, said “This camp is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the girls I coach, and the chance for them to see so many other girls from different countries playing has made them even more enthusiastic than ever to continue playing.”

For most of the women it is the first time out of their native country, and for many even obtaining a passport was a challenge.

One participant, Kamila Rahimi from Afghanistan, said “The camp was a chance to show others that they are just like girls from any country, and they are good people wanting to enjoy sport and having a fun time.”

IWBF Asia Oceania would like to thank everyone made the camp such a successful programme from the sponsors, participants, coaches and volunteers.