The first wheelchair sports centre opens its doors in Siem Reap

September 8, 2017

On Thursday 7 September around 20 people came together for the first training session of Siem Reap’s new wheelchair sports centre. The majority of the players were people with disability, mostly landmine victims or sufferers of polio from the Siem Reap province. The wheelchair sports centre is also opened to people without disability and a few able-bodied individuals also took part in the training. For two hours, the participants were able to become familiar with the rules of wheelchair basketball and discover the basic methods and challenges with manoeuvring around in a wheelchair while dribbling a basketball. The end of the session saw 4 teams play out their first wheelchair basketball match as enthralled onlookers cheered them on.

The launch of the wheelchair sports centre is the fruit of a collaboration between the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Soulcial Trust as part of its “XLability” wheelchair sports programme for social integration for people with disability. ICRC donated ten specially adapted basketball wheelchairs and basketballs to the programme. The international NGO will also be sending players from the ladies’ wheelchair basketball team in Battambang to help train the Siem Reap players every 2 weeks. The weekly wheelchair sports training sessions take place at the ICF Campus behind the Phum Baitang Hotel off the western ring road of Siem Reap.

Participants at the first training session included individuals involved with local disability NGOs Angkor Association for the Disabled (AAD), Khmer Independent Life Team (KILT) and Geneviève’s Fair Trade Village.

The training sessions will commence with wheelchair basketball but the organisers hope to introduce other sports such as wheelchair rugby, tennis and volleyball in the near future. The Soulcial Trust and its French partner XLability are arranging for team members of wheelchair rugby teams from France and India to come and train the Cambodian players on the sport for two weeks in November this year when a “classifier” affiliated with the International Wheelchair Rugby Association will also be present to help with the training and classification of the players. As part of the exchange programme, the wheelchair basketball players will train the French and Indian rugby players on their discipline.

The organisers extend their deepest gratitude to ICRC for helping launch the sports centre and ICF for hosting the training and making the access points and bathrooms accessible.

Individuals – able bodied or with disability – interested in joining the wheelchair sports can contact the organisers by email at xlability@soulcialtravel.com .

For more information about the Soulcial Trust and XLability please contact info@soulcialtrust.org