Palestine, West Bank 25 Sep 2014 00:00
September 25, 2014 Nablus, Palestine Established in the aftermath of the First Intifada, Nablus' wheelchair basketball team is amongst the most prominent in the West Bank. The squad includes players from the city and surrounding villages as well as Nablus' three refugee camps, and features several members of the current Palestinian national team. Many of the members obtained their disabilities from injuries sustained during the first and second Intifadas. Others were either born with, or developed debilitating conditions. Mu'awia Muna, the head coach of the Nablus team, is clear to stress that the team makes no differentiation between the causes of players' disabilities and that the fundamental issue at hand is the need "to provide sporting opportunities for all disabled people". Wheelchair basketball was one of the first Paralympic sports to develop in Palestine and, more than twenty years after its establishment, the Nablus wheelchair basketball team continues to train weekly. However, there are many obstacles faced by the club in its quest to continue work. Access to potential training venues and playing surfaces present constant challenges. Many sporting facilities in Palestine are now quite old and are not equipped with suitable disabled access. Lack of funding is also a major issue for all Paralympic sports in Palestine. The Nablus team's current wheelchairs have seen many years of regular use and are now in desperate need of replacement. With sports wheelchairs costing as much as 2000 euro each, the team needs to secure substantial support in order to continue to provide for the needs of Nablus' disabled athletes.