In 2012, the ICRC established two wheelchair basketball teams in both its Supported Centres in Battambang and Kampong Speu, consisting of 40 players. It was initially created for women with disabilities who are a particularly vulnerable group, often discriminated against in society, and occasionally targets of mental and physical abuse in their home life.
The Battambang team, whose coach and manager is Ms. Sieng Sokchan, has 18 players. During their training, they stay in the dormitory of Physical Rehabilitation Centre which provides 3 meals a day and transportation costs from their home. They play basketball every weekends!
Over the years this group of ladies have become extremely proficient in the sport of wheelchair basketball and in 2015 they attended the Asean Disability Forum in Kuala Lumpur for an exhibition match. Soon after, and with the assistance of ICRC, the Cambodian Wheelchair Basketball Federation was established and has been recognized by the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia. The team recently participated in an exhibition match in Phnom Penh as part of the US Embassy promoted NBA outreach training program. The event was stream live on Facebook with over 800,000 people tuning in to watch. When the wheelchair basketball ladies started to play, the figure jumped to 1.5 million viewers!
Of course, their ultimate challenge is to represent Cambodia in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo!
“Since I started playing sport my life has changed from loneliness and hopelessness to one filled with hope and joy” – Sieng Sokchan, Team’s captain.