France aim for podium on their return to Wheelchair Basketball World Championships

The IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships-Dubai 2022, held between 9 and 20 June 2023, will feature 28 men’s and women’s teams 09 Jun 2023
Six wheelchair basketball players train at an indoor hall.
The French men's team will return to the Wheelchair Basketball World Championships after missing the 2014 and 2018 tournaments.
ⒸMark Madrid/Dubai Club for People of Determination
By Dubai Club for People of Determination, IPC

France aim to win their first gold medal in the men’s tournament at the wheelchair basketball world championships in over three decades when they open their campaign at Dubai 2022. 

The IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships-Dubai 2022 takes place at the World Trade Centre from 9-20 June 2023, featuring as many as 300 players from 20 countries.

The men’s tournament will have 16 teams, including Tokyo 2020 Paralympic gold medallists, Team USA and silver medallists Japan. The women’s event will feature 12 teams.

France make World Championship return

With a good performance at Dubai 2022, the French men’s team seek to move a step closer to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. The team’s focus is not just to play at the Paralympic Games but to leave a mark at home.

France captured three silver medals at the World Championships, most recently at the 2010 tournament in Birmingham, but the team did not qualify for the 2014 and 2018 editions. 

The French men’s team won their only gold medal at the World Championships in 1990. In addition to the World Championships, they have captured seven gold medals at the European Championships between 1982 and 2001.

Making their first appearance at the World Championships in 13 years, France are ready to put on a show and capture the spotlight at the World Championships in Dubai.

“All the players are excited to be here; it’s our first time (playing) in Dubai. The players have been waiting for the World Championships, which were postponed from November 2022 to June 2023,” head coach Karim El Guedda said.

“All the teams are strong and the competition is quite open here. So, anyone can win any day. We must be at our best in every game.”

France will face Argentina when they open their campaign on 11 June. 

“The team have been building up for the last two years for the World Championships, European Championships and the Paris 2024 Paralympics. It’s a new team and hopefully the same players will play at the Paralympics,” the head coach said.

“For the players, (the World Championships) is a very important event and they are ready to give their best. It will be very good if we can take the silver medal. But the players of course want to finish on top. The preparation has been good.”

Hosts UAE ready to make history

United Arab Emirates are ready to make history when they take on Italy in their opening Group A game in the men's tournament. While it is the first time that they participate in the World Championships, it will be a dream come true for most of the players to compete alongside the top teams of the world.

Head coach Abbas Aghakoucheki said the players are confident and ready for the big challenge.

“The World Championships are one of the short-term plans for me since I joined them in July 2022. We have also brought in some younger players like 19-year-old Mansour (Mohamed Alnaqbi) to have more speed and enthusiasm in the side,” said the coach, who coached the Islamic Republic of Iran at two Paralympic Games.

Veteran player Ibrahim Salim Alhammadi admitted that playing at the Worlds against the world's best is not an easy challenge. But his team is ready to put up an inspiring show. 

“The team is stronger in many ways. We have more experience. Now, we have many chances and plans in one game; the focus is on everybody not just a few players. Earlier we failed to reach the basket on many occasions, but now we reach near the basket and able to capitalise on our chances.”