Wellspect is the new partner of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF); we asked Fabio Raimondi, Paralympic basketball athlete and Wellspect ambassador, to interview Fernando Zappile, vice president of IWBF Europe and president of the Italian Federation Wheelchair Basketball (FIPIC).).
Fabio Raimondi has been a wheelchair basketball player since the age of 16. He has participated in two Paralympics (Athens 2004 and London 2012). He has won 5 league titles, 4 with Santa Lucia and 1 with Fundosa. He won 2 European championships with the Italian national team shirt of which he was captain for 10 years and is currently the player with the most appearances with the blue shirt.
Fernando Zappile was an athlete and founder in the 80s of Corvino Sport, a company in which various disciplines were practiced including basketball. Within a few years he took his team from promotion to victory in a historic Italian cup and the Vergauwen cup. Since 1994 he has been a member of IWBF Europe and has held the roles of Technical Delegate, Treasurer, Game Commissioner, and since 2018, Vice President. Since 2010 he has been president of FIPIC, the Italian Wheelchair Basketball Federation
Fabio Raimondi: Fernando, in your opinion, what are the fundamental values inherent to the IWBF, and what does that mean to our athletes?
Fernando Zappile: In my thirty years if experience, the IWBF is an organization that locates the value of inclusiveness at its core; wheelchair basketball is a crucible of equal opportunities for all athletes, regardless of the type or severity of their disability. Everyone in the organization is essential to collective success, and this success wouldn't be possible without the contribution of each team member. This approach ensures that every athlete has assimilated a deep respect for the game itself, for their teammates and for their competitors.
FR: We're in the middle of a pandemic and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games have been cancelled – how do you think athletes can stay motivated when they have been focused and in training for years? How can they maintain fitness and mental health?
FZ: In 2020 we've all been called on to find resources that we probably didn't think we had, to face the upheavals that are changing the world before our eyes. It's not easy for athletes who have had a goal in mind for four years to reset their concentration and preparation while waiting to participate in such an extraordinary event. But in our Paralympic world the concept of resilience is an integral part of the character that destiny has forged in each of us, so I am convinced that our athletes can be an example and inspiration for the whole world of sport also from this point of view.
FR: IWBF's business is constantly evolving despite the ongoing pandemic. In particular, the decision by IPC (International Paralympic Committee) to review the classification criteria for wheelchair basketball players is causing a lot of unease because it would lead to the exclusion of some categories of athlete. Do you think that a compromise can be reached for the good of the movement?
FZ: Unfortunately, I think this decision of the IPC excludes a large section of athletes who will not be able to play basketball in wheelchairs, nor standing basketball, in fact it violates that principle of inclusiveness that I believe to be the cornerstone of our business; it is a right to practice basketball.
FR: What value does IWBF bring to its partnership with sponsors, according to you?
FZ: I think the contribution of our sponsors is the lifeblood for the growth of our movement at an international level; much progress has been made in recent years, and we've seen an increase in the embrace of our values among our partners. We as an organization our able to offer the opportunity for companies to identify and practice these positive values, where teamwork and profound inspiration are the cornerstones and lifeblood of our success.
FR: Thank you for making yourself available for this interview Fernando
FZ: You are most welcome Fabio