No Limits – Wheelchair basketball

And finally, to wrap up the No Limits Weekend sports coverage: Wheelchair basketball!

Wheelchair basketball

I was a little surprised to see these two teams, all in matching uniforms, dominating the sports park when I arrived. You could tell right away that these were no amateur teams! Not only did they maneuver well around the court, they had fake-outs and tricks! It was a little ridiculous. In an awesome way.

It was a lot of fun to watch–way more fun than garden-variety basketball if you ask me! Watch a clip of the match if you don’t believe me:

At one point a ball rolled off the court to wheelchair unfriendly area. A nice lady went to get it and her shoe slipped and she almost ended up on the ground. One of the players jumped out of their seat to help her. That was pretty entertaining to watch too.

Apparently, this is the first wheelchair basketball team in Sicily. Not all the players could come to this event, so there were a few able-bodies on the court. Three of the players were clearly not faking as they had above-the-knee amputations–including two of the founding members: Fausto Firreri and Giuseppe Viola.

Before I tell you what they said to me, let me preface that these were two of the nicest men! They were welcoming and very open and willing to answer questions. They told me how this all started about 3 years ago when they went to Bologna to play basketball in a tournament there, just for fun. They went a few times and finally decided that they wanted to keep playing.

Seeing as there wasn’t a wheelchair basketball team in Sicily, they decided to start their own. They started finding players and sponsors. As you can imagine, it was tough to find players, but they did and now have earned Serie B status (like soccer rankings. So this is the B League–it’s hard to imagine what it takes to be in the A League). They are always looking for new players and have been so successful that they have now started a second team in another city!

Windsurfing amputee Giuseppe ViolaNow, these guys are inspirations for others to get out there! I can’t help but think that maybe Giuseppe Viola was probably an inspiration for everyone else to get involved. He got a prosthetic with one of those high-tech knees that allows him to windsurf, snow board and mountain bike (and those are only the sports I remember him listing!). This guys is unstoppable! So is his kick-butt team!

Check out their Facebook Group–it’s in Italian but pictures are worth 1000 words, in the universal language of pixelish.

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