DUBAI // Organisers are expecting the UAE’s large Filipino community to turn up in numbers at the Al Ahli club next week to support their national team in the 8th Fazza International Wheelchair Basketball Tournament.

The Philippines, along with Great Britain, will be making their first appearance at the tournament, which will be held from April 22-29 with a total of eight teams taking part.

The tournament, organised and supervised by the Dubai Club for the Disabled and supported by the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre, will also see teams from Japan, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and hosts UAE in action.

“We have got two countries participating here for the first time, the Philippines and Great Britain,” said Thani Juma Berregad, the chairman of the Dubai Club for the Disabled and chairman of the organising committee for the Fazza Championships for the Disabled.

“The participation of Thailand last year and the crowds they brought to the courts, convinced us for the need to spread.

“Basketball is very popular in the Philippines and they have a lot of support here. So we are confident this tournament will shine with the participation of Thailand and Philippines, and of course Great Britain. Then we have Morocco as well, who will be representing Africa.

“We are proud of what we have been able to achieve over the years in terms of the standing of this tournament and I wish every success to all the eight participating teams, especially our own national team. They have been training hard for this championship and we hope they will get a good result.”

Majid Abdullah Al Usaimi, the tournament director, thanked Sheikh Hamdan for his support, which has helped create an increased awareness of disability sport and he is expecting this tournament to grow bigger in the coming years.

“Since its inception, this Fazza International Tournament has contributed towards the development of wheelchair basketball through strong competition between the participating teams, especially the participation of some of the stronger teams,” Al Usaimi said.

“We may well seek to expand the tournament to 10 or 12 teams in the coming years as that will give it an added impetus and momentum, and achieve the most important goal of providing sterner tests for our national team in the absence of an organised year-round schedule.”

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Source: Sports