For this 360-degree report we were at the Palais des Sports in Gerland, Lyon, where the local wheelchair basketball team had a very important game. It was taking part in a basketball festival, which meant a bigger court and a bigger crowd. Ricardo Figueira went to meet them and to learn more about wheelchair basketball
The Lyon Métropole Wheelchair basketball club was founded in 2005 and plays in France’s second division.
Khaled Aït-Ouferoukhis is both a player on the team and chairman of the club. He tells us that:
“wheelchair basketball is a fully-fledged sport. It allows athletes both to develop and to amuse themselves. It is also a way of surpassing your own limits. Even if you have a disability, there’s a lot of sport you can do.”
Valter Mendes is a Portuguese player on the team. He started playing in his home country. Unlike most of his teammates, he is not confined to a wheelchair in daily life and has a limited usage of his legs. He says:
“I started playing in ’98 in Leiria, which is where I’m from. Then I came to France for a new job and I found this team, which allowed me to continue practising the sport I love so much. It’s something that gives me a great deal of pleasure and it’s also an escape from the daily routine. It allows me to experience different environments. As we play at a national level, we travel throughout the whole country.”
Some wheelchair basketball teams are mixed. Lisa Clary plays for the Centre Fédéral team, from Bordeaux, Lyon Métropole’s opponent. She explains that:
“There are not enough girls with a disability to create a team. So it’s a good thing they allow mixed teams in the championship. It allows us to play at a very advanced level, as we are playing against men, There’s a real difference in level.
Just for the record, the home team, Lyon Métropole, beat Centre Fédérale 50-30.