Bulgarian wheelchair basketball team has attracted many fans with its first big victory

Photo: private library

"The Bulgarian national wheelchair basketball team has existed for two years and is a natural continuation in the development of this sport in Bulgaria," Coach Vladimir Iskrov says. He graduated from the National Sports Academy in 2009 with a master's degree in basketball and then obtained a doctoral degree in sports psychology. In addition, he has completed several training courses in Europe and the USA for basketball coaches. In the beginning, he started working with few players who wished to train in the new wheelchair basketball club. The Bulgarian national wheelchair basketball team won the first official game in its history at the end of July. The Bulgarians overcame the Hungarian team and won 50:33. The match took place on the first day of the European Championships, Division C, in Sofia. The success was great for the Bulgarian competitors, as they had not participated in a competition of this level before.

"The great benefit of this European Championships was that a club from Rousse expressed desire to develop this type of basketball in their city. I hope that this tournament will be the basis for the future development of this sport in Bulgaria,” Vladimir Iskrov says. “I am sure that every big city needs such a team. Before we achieved our victory over Hungary in our first official match, the hardest part for us was convincing ourselves that it was possible for us to participate in the European Championships. Our national team gathers before major tournaments. The rest of the time the boys train in their clubs and for the time being there are two clubs for wheelchair basketball in Sofia – Sofia Balkan and Levski, with a total of 23 players. There are similar teams in Varna and Burgas and I hope that Rousse will soon have their team, too."

The boys led by Vladimir Iskrov were aware that it would be difficult to achieve great results as debutants, but the international federation gave them much motivation. They were also inspired by the big number of people who watched the games. "The people were very tolerant and showed support to all of the teams in the tournament. This cannot be seen in other sports in Bulgaria,” Vladimir Iskrov says and adds:

"The players in our National Team perceive themselves as athletes, not as disabled people. We have two boys playing in foreign national teams, as well as Stuart Olson – a Bulgarian, adopted as a kid in the USA, who now participates in the US and Canada Basketball Championships. We also have an athlete with a transfer agreement to Turkey. He has a lower limb abnormality. He is of Romani origin and I am extremely happy that he was accepted to play in Turkey, because in this way he changed his social status. He has a salary of 1000 euros, trains twice a day and this year he graduates from school. He is an example of how an 18-year-old who has started from scratch can achieve a high standard of living through sport.”

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: basketball.bg and youtube.com

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