“Sports have always been what makes me wake up in the morning from early age. My disability never stopped me from playing Football with my friends, turning my hands into feet, which led to some painful but joyful moments. Ironically, until I was 12 years old I didn’t know about the existence of sports targeting people like me or with other disabilities. It was a mesmerizing experience the first time I had the chance to watch Wheelchair Basketball. Me and specially my parents hesitated to sign me up in a local team when they saw how tough and agressive it was, but 4 years later I insisted and finally went to practice. My uncle played a key role and I am extremely grateful to him, because I had the most clear sensation I had found a purpose in life. Soon I put up myself to the challenge of playing abroad, in a top professional league, an experience I reached in 2013, by moving to Spain to play in CP Mideba. Since then, I spent 7 seasons between Spain and Italy, and have also been blessed with the opportunity to represent Portugal in 4 European Championships.
I think the main reason I fell in love with Wheelchair Basketball has to do with the perfect harmony it can promote between inclusion and competitiveness, driving away the common spectator from the idea that Disability Sports have only a recreational or therapeutic grasp. Everyone can play, with more or less severe physical injuries, and even without disability in some places.
Plus, it is intense, fast, dynamic and carries its own identity. It’s not just an adaptation of standing Basketball as it holds a very distinct tactical beauty.
Most importantly – and be aware I am biased – there are not many things that can defy people’s expectations about what a person with a disability can do like Wheelchair Basketball. I encourage everyone to try it!”
Pedro Bártolo – Portuguese Wheelchair Basketball player
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