A new wheelchair basketball program has been created, and players will begin hitting the court this Saturday at the Peter W. Stott Center. The program is a first for the campus and is open to both PSU students and non-PSU students. The practices will be held on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. starting May 31 and will continue until Aug. 2. Campus Recreation has organized the program, in conjunction with the Disability Advocacy Cultural Association (DACA) and Oregon Disability Sports.
A new wheelchair basketball program has been created, and players will begin hitting the court this Saturday at the Peter W. Stott Center.
The program is a first for the campus and is open to both PSU students and non-PSU students. The practices will be held on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. starting May 31 and will continue until Aug. 2. Campus Recreation has organized the program, in conjunction with the Disability Advocacy Cultural Association (DACA) and Oregon Disability Sports.
Organizer Waddah Sofan would like to see students get involved with people from all over the Portland metropolitan area including Vancouver.
“We are trying to get the students with disabilities involved with people outside of campus,” Sofan said.
In addition to allowing non-PSU students to participate, able-bodied students are also encouraged to come and play. Sofan is hoping to have enough extra wheelchairs on hand to accommodate anyone who wishes to join in on the action.
The hope is to have enough participation during the summer to springboard the program into the fall and winter terms.
Sofan said the Saturday events will be friendly gatherings where beginners and more advanced wheelchair basketball players can play together. The aim is to have these sessions train at least two teams for the end of the summer basketball tournament called Hoops on the River in Vancouver, Wash., on Aug. 16 and 17. The teams would compete against other wheelchair basketball teams from around the area.
While the focus of Saturday wheelchair basketball is on fun, Sofan emphasized the importance of increasing understanding in the community about people with disabilities.
“My hope is to bring awareness to students on campus,” Sofan said.
Sofan’s background may help to ensure the success of the Saturday wheelchair basketball program. As a native Palestinian, Sofan played for the national wheelchair basketball team as well as the swimming and table tennis teams. He was also the coach of a Palestinian wheelchair basketball club.
Wheelchair basketball has a large number of participants nationwide as well as its own national organization, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). The NWBA is divided into five divisions, with junior and intercollegiate leagues for women, and three divisions for men.
Based on basketball, wheelchair basketball has been adapted to reflect the presence of wheelchairs and seeks to synchronize the various levels of disabilities among players by using a point system. The point system assigns a number between 1.0 to 4.5 to each player, with the lower values reflecting a higher degree of disability and vice versa. Teams are sometimes constructed so that there are limits to the total number of points on the court at a given time.
This system is recognized internationally and does leave room for able-bodied participants, but scores these players with a five and does not allow them to take part in international competitions, according to the NWBA Web site.
The court size and hoop height are the same as on a standard basketball court, and only a few rules have been tweaked to compensate for the use of wheelchairs. For instance, traveling occurs when the player touches his wheels more than twice after receiving or dribbling the ball.
Throughout the United States, there are a number of sports that incorporate the wheelchair, including table tennis, softball, touch football and rugby. In the case of rugby, Portland has its own club, the Portland Pounders, which competes with teams all over the country.
In order to participate in PSU’s wheelchair basketball, contact Waddah Sofan at [email protected] or DACA at daca.groups.pdx.edu. Participation is free for PSU students and $7 for non-PSU students.