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Establishing a women’s wheelchair basketball team in Siem Reap

Copyrights: International Committee of the Red Cross

Establishing a women’s wheelchair basketball team in Siem Reap

A collaborative effort between different institutions and organizations in Cambodia saw the successful establishment of a women’s wheelchair basketball team in Siem Reap.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided physical rehabilitation services for the past 28 years, caring for the needs of persons with disabilities whose lives have been blighted by the millions of landmines leftover after Cambodia’s Civil War. ICRC supports two Physical Rehabilitation Centres in Battambang and Kampong Speu, which cover seven provinces in Cambodia.

In 2012, the ICRC established its Social Inclusion Program which provides opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in four areas:

  1. Education opportunities for children and young adults with disabilities
  2. Employment and small business opportunities
  3. Vocational training
  4. Sports and cultural participation

A major impact of this social inclusion is through sport. Through one initiative this year, ICRC and wheelchair basketball teams in Kampong Speu (KOM) and Battambang (BAA) made an effort to mobilize more people with disabilities to play sport.

ICRC met with the German Embassy in Cambodia in July 2020, who were interested in supporting disability sports. They were willing to support starting a new wheelchair basketball team with sports equipment and clothing. The German Embassy of Cambodia were willing to support funding of materials up to USD 5,000.

ICRC shared the good news with Soulcial Trust, an NGO supporting the men’s team in Siem Reap; happily, Soulcial Trust was interested in creating the new female wheelchair basketball team in Siem Reap. Soulcial Trust and the team leader of male team reached out to women with disabilities in Siem Reap to join the new wheelchair basketball team. Seven women initially came forward to join.

Sports equipment and sport wheelchairs which specially produced by the Jesuit Society of Cambodia (JSC) and handed over to the Siem Reap team. All was set for the first training session! With the women gathered at the basketball court, the Siem Reap men’s team and two coaches from the Battambang Team joined. International Canadian coach Mr. Joe Higgins and Mr. Sokchea Mao of the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia (NPCC) also joined to lend a hand to give the team a good start.

These players are set to help wheelchair basketball grow bigger and to engage more people with disabilities in Cambodia, exposing their abilities rather than their than disability. Sport is also essential in promoting self-esteem, social connection and fun. It took many hands – the German Embassy of Cambodia, ICRC, Soulcial Trust, JSC, the Siem Reap men’s team, Joe in Canada, NPCC, and the coaches from BAA to make it happen and our efforts were hugely rewarded when we saw them passing and flying round the court that first day in Siem Reap. Who knows, some of these players may even go on to represent their country in the future.

Sreyleak Nob has been working with the International Commitee of the Red Cross’s Social Inclusion Programme, which is part of ICRC’s Physical Rehabilitation Programme, in Cambodia. Much of her time has been dedicated to supporting the development of wheelchair basketball.


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Sreyleak Nob


Thursday, November 26, 2020 - 06:02