WEL Trust Helps NZ Wheelchair Basketball Team
WEL TRUST HELPS NZ WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL TEAM TOWARDS QUALIFYING FOR THE PARALYMPICS 2000
The WEL Trust has made a grant of $10,000 towards the Asia Oceania Region Paralympics 2000 qualifying wheelchair basketball tournament to be hosted in Hamilton this month.
This is the first time the New Zealand wheelchair basketball team has been given the opportunity to play for a world ranking.
If successful it will entitle them to play in the Paralympics in Sydney - two weeks after the main Olympics.
Tournament organiser, Brian Monds, was delighted when the grant was approved.
"We have been planning this tournament for two years. It's the only way to finally get a ranking and an opportunity to play in the Olympics," he said.
Brian sees a real advantage playing this tournament at home.
"We're more likely to win being at home, with our supporters, in our own climate and eating our own food," he says.
Competition is likely to be tough.
Two overseas teams --- Japan and Korea - - - will be competing with New Zealand, and only two teams will go forward to the Paralympics.
Japan is currently ranked ninth and Korea 11th in the world.
Wheelchair basketball is played the same as able bodied basketball.
"You just don't see any dunks," says Brain.
The New Zealand team has been building for this tournament for weeks.
The athletes, who all come from the North Island, including two from the Waikato, Lennie Ranga and Wolo Elisa, are in training camp at Waihi this week.
Brian believes the Koreans will be the team to beat.
"They're like all Asian teams - very quick. If we can slow them down our size will control the game," he says.
The tournament will be held at the City Stadium in Pembroke Street, Hamilton, from 18-25 March.
For more information contact: John Skinner, Executive Officer,
WEL Energy Trust, telephone 07 838 0093