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Reference : V-P-SY-E-00869
Date : 01/05/2019
Country/Region : SYRIA
Caption : Damascus. One week wheelchair basketball training, organized by the ICRC for coaches, referees and classifiers from all over Syria, as well as the national wheelchair basketball team. Shirieen is the only female referee of the training. She is a member of the Syrian team and a long distance running champion.
Photographer : MORTVEDT, Mari Aftret
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : Shirieen discovered her talent in sport from tournaments in her school when she was younger. In her governorate Homs they call her the "overall player" because she plays basketball, tennis, handball and many sports. "I had a goal and I achieved it. I always wanted to play for the Syrian team and represent my country outside of Syria and I did", she says. "In Homs, there is only a few girls who are interested in sports, and I aspire to develop the number and importance of female roles across all levels of sport. This training was great, I want to thank the General Sports Federation for this opportunity and coach Jess Markt for his enthusiasm and energy and for all the useful information he shared with us", she explains.

Jess Markt, injured to the spinal cord at age 19, is an american wheelchair basketball coach who is working with ICRC as a Sport and Inclusion Advisor. He came to Syria from 24th of April to 1st of May 2019, where he trained 40 people. The training included theoretical and practical sessions and both the coach and the players could see an improvement in the players' performance.

ICRC website photogallery, 14.05.2019: How wheelchair basketball supports social inclusion in Syria

Jess Markt, also fondly known as Captain Jess, spent a week in Syria training coaches, referees, classifiers and players from the six governorates of Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Tartus, Lattakia, Qouneitra. Markt is the ICRC's disability sport and integration advisor. He is also a wheelchair basketball trainer.
Disability, whether it was caused during the war or not, remains a big challenge in Syria. In 2017, due to the ICRC's support and involvement with wheelchair basketball, teams have improved their level of activity. The support has also opened doors for newer players to join the teams.
“Captain Jess taught us new ways and strategies for playing basketball. Hopefully, we will be able to improve our skills even further,” Nabil says.
The idea of wheelchair basketball was developed after World War II where a large number of soldiers and civilians sustained injuries. They felt trapped in their wheelchairs. Playing sports was a great outlet that made people feel that they could still be a part of something bigger than themselves. The ICRC’s support and involvement in wheelchair basketball started in 2011 in Afghanistan.
“A disabling injury can be difficult. But, whether you have lost a limb or are paralyzed, there is still so much more you can do. If I hadn’t been paralyzed when I was 19 years old, I would not be here in Syria, doing the best job in the world – teaching these guys how to play basketball,” Markt says. [...]
The Syrian wheelchair team recently played in a tournament in Beirut. This was the first time they ever played internationally, and they came in second after Afghanistan. Markt was there and he was amazed by the Syrian team’s performance and said that he believes they are already off to a good start. [...]
In Syria, thousands of people live with disabilities. Getting assistance can be difficult due to the prolonged conflict and lack of access to health services. Sports can help rebuild confidence and strength.
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Orientation : landscape
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