International Wheelchair Sports Exchange
The International Wheelchair Sports Exchange (IWSE) is a three-year exchange with wheelchair basketball and rugby teams from Cambodia, France, and India. Participants teach one another their respective sports, exchange techniques, and learn about life for people with disabilities in a different context.
In 2017, the first year of the exchange, the first IWSE was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia. In 2018, the exchange will be held in Toulouse, France, and the final exchange in 2019 will be in New Delhi, India.
- Increase positive visibility of people with disabilities in local communities and the media.
- Expand athletes’ skills in their respective sports
- Share knowledge, culture, and sports with people from different cultures
In 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Cambodia established two wheelchair basketball teams in Battambang and Kampong Speu, consisting of 40 players. It was initially created for women with disabilities who are a particularly vulnerable group, often discriminated against in society, and occasionally targets of mental and physical abuse in their home life.
The Battambang team, whose coach and manager is Ms. Sieng Sokchan, has 18 players. Over the years this group of ladies have become extremely proficient in the sport of wheelchair basketball and in 2015 they attended the ASEAN Disability Forum in Kuala Lumpur for an exhibition match. Soon after, and with the assistance of ICRC, the Cambodian Wheelchair Basketball Federation was established and has been recognized by the National Paralympic Committee of Cambodia.
Bayon Siem Reap
In 2017, Soulcial Trust partnered with ICRC Cambodia to establish a third wheelchair basketball team in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Although new to the sport, the men who participate in the weekly trainings are full of motivation and eager to learn all they can. Approximately 12 players train regularly and have progressed quickly in only a few short months. In July 2018 they hope to participate in a wheelchair basketball tournament in Bali, Indonesia.
Created by the patients and staff of the Indian Spinal Injury Centre (ISIC) in 2008, the Delhi Warriors are the first wheelchair rugby team in all of India. Approximately 15 men and women train in rugby every weekend.
The Montpellier Wheelchair Rugby Club (MHR) was created in Montpellier, France on July 2014. It was launched thanks to the motivation and tenacity of the members and players, both with and without a disability. They come from different backgrounds; some are from rugby or football clubs, others are former students of The Faculty of Sport Sciences.
MHR consists of approximately 15 players on the quad rugby team, and is developing a Wheelchair Rugby XIII team. Since its creation the MHR benefits from the endowment fund of the professional rugby club of Montpellier Hérault Rugby and its association, the Montpellier Rugby Club. It helps by organizing events to promote and inform on the MHR during the club’s matches at the Altrad Stadium.
Rugby Fauteuil Club Toulon Provence Méditerranée (RFCTPM)
Rugby Fauteuil Club Toulon Provence Méditerranée (RFCTPM) of Toulon, France, was established in 2014 and numbers approximately 10 players. They are represented in the main regional sporting tournaments with their participation in championships and the Mediterranean Cup.
Sport is the basis of their project but it also involves a great commitment to solidarity by raising public awareness about disability in different ways.
Stade Toulousain Rugby Handisport (STRH)
Created in 2003 under the name of Toulouse Handi Ovalie Mixte (THOM), the Stade Toulousain Rugby Handisport (STRH) is both a sports club focused on competitive performance and an association carrying out a social integration project. Thanks to an original concept, loyal partners, a professional structure, and the growing collective emulation generated by its projects, the club has achieved an unprecedented success in the world of wheelchair sports.
The associative project of STRH is based on the duality between the “sports” pole and the “social action” pole. On one hand, they have the competitive or leisure sports objectives, and on the other hand the objectives of accompaniment, insertion and awareness.
2017 INTERNATIONAL WHEELCHAIR SPORTS EXCHANGE
From the very first day I was captivated because I never had the opportunity to be a part of an exchange like this. Thanks to this project, I have been able to meet different people from different countries while playing different sports, which is very enriching. It has been really amazing for me and has filled my head with incredible memories that make me want to participate in the project next year.” -Tristan, Toulouse, France
In November 2017, wheelchair rugby and basketball athletes from Cambodia, France, and India met in Siem Reap, Cambodia for two weeks in an exchange of sports, culture, and camaraderie. “Quad Rugby” players from France and India traveled to Cambodia to work with basketball players from Battambang, Cambodia and the newly-formed team in Siem Reap, Cambodia, for the first International Wheelchair Sports Exchange. The event featured rigorous training sessions, basketball and rugby matches, workshops on identifying new rugby players, and building awareness of disability by introducing children in Cambodia to wheelchair sports.