Sports and intellectual disabilities – Mixed Ability project

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Sports and intellectual disabilities – Mixed Ability project

According to the United Nations, sports have the capacity to transcend linguistic, cultural and social barriers. Sports can also help transform perceptions of people with disabilities by highlighting their skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the person. Through sport, persons without disabilities interact with persons with disabilities in a positive context.

Inclusion Europe interviews Nuria Zapatero, a social worker and one of the leaders of the Baskonia Mixed Ability project.


+ What is this project about?

The Mixed Ability project was born in late 2021 with the support of Baskonia Basketball Club, in Spain, and the International Mixed Ability Sports. The aim of this project is to change perceptions of intellectual disabilities and create a more inclusive world through basketball.

There are two teams, one for women and one for men, where people with and without intellectual disabilities play together and learn from each other.


+ Let’s talk about the games. Do you play against other Mixed Ability teams? Have you made any changes to the rules?

There have been no changes since the aim of the project is social integration. We do the work during the training. At the moment we are playing friendly games against senior teams. There are no other Mixed Ability teams in Spain, we are pioneers. In fact, we are also pioneers in Europe. There is another basketball team in Italy, and they want to make another club for mixed ability in England. If there is an agreement, we will possibly carry out a project at the European level, in one year. We need to give visibility to this project (…)


+ What is needed to create a Mixed Ability team?

To create a Mixed Ability team, you need the right attitude, belief in the project, the sports club’ support, a social worker and coaches. Then you need a sports court and money to pay for the facilities and staff.


+ What would be the ultimate goal of this project?

My ultimate goal is to federate the team and play in a serious competition (…) not necessarily in a Mixed Ability league, just a serious competition where we do real inclusion (…) but for that, I need the commitment of both people with and without intellectual disabilities.

It would be great if, in the future, teams welcomed people with intellectual disabilities to play with them (…) but that’s a long way off. However, we are on the right track.


Would you like to participate or start a Mixed Ability team? Check:

Find out more about Baskonia Basketball Club here:

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