A new-look team with renewed energy and enthusiasm, France will aim for the elusive gold medal, missing from their cap over three decades, when they return to start their campaign at the IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships – Dubai 2022 starting on Friday (9 June).

For the France men’s team, a good performance at Dubai 2022 will be just one of the steps moving closer to the Paris 2024 Paralympics – their sole focus which includes not to play at Paris 2024 but to leave a mark at home. For now, they are focused to get the continental ticket – European Championships – through a podium show at Dubai 2022 Worlds.

France, which also had three silver medals with the latest coming in 2010, didn’t qualify for the last two Championships in the men’s event – 2014 and 2018 Worlds – and would make the most of this appearance after 13 years. The men’s side won their only gold medal at the World Championships in 1990.

Besides, they have a strong appearance at the European Championships, claiming the maximum number of 7 gold medals (1982- 2001) to be at par with Great Britain.

In Dubai, head coach Karim El Guedda looked confident of his team and said they are eager to put up a good show at the World Championship, an event they have waited long to compete in. After the team’s training session at the World Trade Centre Hall 4, El Guedda said:

“All the players are excited to be here; it’s our first time in Dubai. The players have been waiting for the World Championships, which was postponed from November 2022 to June 2023. All the teams are strong, and the competition is quite open here. So, anyone can win any day. We must be at our best in every game.”

France, placed in Group C of the four groups among men, will take on Argentina in their opening game and the coach highlighted that the French team would rely on their usual offensive game but would be prepared on their defence as well.

He continued:

“The team have been building up for the last two years for the World Championships, European Championships and Paris 2024 Paralympics. It’s a new team and hopefully the same players will play the Paralympics. So, for the players, it’s a very important event and they are ready to give their best.

“It will be very good if we can take the silver medal. But the players of course want to finish on top. The preparation has been good; we trained with Argentina last week in France and it was quite fruitful,” said El Guedda, who joined the team three years back and pointed out that Great Britain and Netherlands are one of the strongest team in the Dubai 2022 Worlds field.”

Besides France, other top teams including Great Britain, the Netherlands, USA etc have arrived in Dubai and have trained at the World Trade Centre Halls as the stage is all set to host the championships from June 9.

As many as 300 players from 20 countries representing 28 teams (16 men and 12 women) will vie for the top honours at the World Trade Centre courts over the next two weeks.

Visit the 2022 IWBF World Championship Website for more information.

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Text by Priyanka Sharma / Dubai Club for People of Determination.

Credit: Mark Madrid / Dubai Club for People of Determination