The upcoming 2024 IWBF Asia Oceania Wheelchair Basketball Championships will introduce a groundbreaking initiative by assembling female players from various countries to form an Asia Oceania Composite team for the women’s competition. The primary objective is to enhance participation in women’s wheelchair basketball in the Asia Oceania region, providing inspiration to women and offering opportunities for those lacking sufficient players to form teams.

This initiative is made possible through the generous support of Citi, a key partner of PARA SPORT, the grassroots-to-high performance program of the International Paralympic Committee. In a significant move towards promoting inclusivity and empowerment in sports, Citi has pledged its backing to the women’s competition at the forthcoming Asia Oceania Championships. This commitment extends to six teams: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, India, the Philippines, and the Asia Oceania Team.

The collaboration aims to encourage greater involvement of women in wheelchair basketball while breaking down barriers that may hinder their participation. Citi’s support specifically reaches out to less economically developed nations, recognizing the financial challenges that could impede their representation in competitive events.

A notable highlight of this endeavour is the creation of an Asia Oceania Zone team, comprising players from nations like Nepal, Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Bahrain. Although this team’s performance won’t impact overall standings, its primary goal is to inspire and encourage increased participation in the sport, transcending geographical and economic constraints.

Roba Al Omari, a Bahraini athlete, will be part of the first-ever Asia Oceania Zone team. She enthusiastically shared her excitement about this opportunity. As a wheelchair athlete excelling in athletics, particularly javelin and racing, her passion for wheelchair basketball surpasses her achievements in other sports:

“I started practicing basketball locally inside the Kingdom of Bahrain and the GCC, but I am the only female playing wheelchair basketball.

“Being part of this diverse team is a unique experience. It goes beyond competition; it’s about breaking stereotypes and showing that women from different backgrounds can come together, overcome challenges, and excel in sports. Citi’s support is invaluable in making this dream a reality. I thank Asia Oceania Zone for giving me the opportunity to achieve my dream to practice basketball at an international level. My dream will come true.”

The Asia Oceania Championships are expected to not only display the athletic prowess of the participating teams but also serve as a platform for advancing the cause of women’s wheelchair basketball across the region. With the support of Citi, the championships aim to make a lasting impact on the lives of female athletes, fostering a more inclusive and diverse sports landscape.

Don Perriman, the Secretary General of IWBF Asia Oceania, said:,

“Over recent years, our dedicated efforts have focused on enhancing women’s wheelchair basketball throughout the region through initiatives like women’s development camps. We aimed at not only boosting participation but also elevating the skill and knowledge level in all these countries. This collaboration with Citi marks the next significant step, particularly in aiding economically challenged nations or those lacking government support for disabled female athletes. The backing from Citi is instrumental in championing the cause of women’s wheelchair basketball, fostering equality, and we extend our sincere thanks to Citi and PARA SPORT for making this initiative a reality.”

The 2024 IWBF Asia Oceania Wheelchair Basketball Championships will take place at the Bangkok Youth Centre in Bangkok, Thailand between the 12 – 20 January 2024. For more information visit the event page.