Wheelchair Basketball Draw 311.
(photo credit: Yaro Bril)
The countdown to one of the largest athletic events of the year has begun, after
the draw for the 2011 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships was held in
Nazareth on Thursday.
Nineteen European national teams – 12 men’s and
seven women’s – will make their way to the Galilee for the tournaments, which
will be held between September 6- 18. The games will take place in Gan Ner and
“This will be the first time that Israel has hosted a sporting
event of this magnitude,” said Danny Ben-Abu, president of the Israel Sports
Association for the Disabled.
“And for it to be in the north, with its
warmth and its bridges between so many types of people, makes it all the more
In addition to Great Britain’s men’s and women’s teams, five
men’s and four women’s teams will advance from the Euros to the 2012 Paralympics
“We need to take advantage of being the hosts,” said men’s
coach Arik Pinto. “I believe we can get a Euro medal. And the fact that we’re
hosting the games here is proof of our abilities.”
Israel’s men’s team,
which won the gold medal at the 1980 Paralympic Games in Arnhem, the
Netherlands, and finished sixth at the 2008 Games in Beijing, will face Italy,
Great Britain, Turkey, Belgium and Switzerland in Group B. Group A will consist
of France, Poland, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.
women’s competition – which consists of seven teams after Italy backed out –
Israel will face Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany, France, and
Jan Berteling, president of the International Wheelchair
Basketball Federation, said that he “was aware that we are angering some people”
by holding the championships in Israel.
“There was a lot of discussion
about whether Israel could [host the games],” Berteling said. “But Israel is a
regular member in quite good standing with the IWBF, and they deserve a
The decision to hold the games in the north – the teams will be
based in Nazareth and practices will take place in surrounding towns – was also
made with great care. Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ra’anana were all in the running
before Nazareth was chosen.
“Nazareth is a much more integrated city than
what you have in the center of the country,” Berteling said.
hosted the third Paralympic Games in 1968, but organizers and many of the
officials at the draw were convinced that September’s championships will be the
biggest sporting event in the country’s history.
“It’s a big event,”
Berteling said. “We’ll have 74 games, which is more than you had at the World
Cup last summer.
It’s a wide-ranging competition.
And we believe
Israel will do a great job putting it together.”