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The incredible European basketball champions with Down syndrome

Italian National Basketball Team with Down Syndrome, European Champions, 2023

@GiorgiaMeloni | Twitter

Cerith Gardiner - published on 09/12/23

The inspirational Italian champions with Down syndrome show their athletic prowess for the world to see.

Move over, LA Lakers or New York Knicks, there’s another basketball team that is breaking records and wowing crowds!

The Italian national basketball team has just beaten Finland 34-18 to become European champions, having already won the World Championships in 2018, 2019, and 2022. And this weekend, they also notched up another big win to gain their third European gold medal.

Coached by Giuliano Bufacchi, and his assistants Mauro Dessì and Francesca D’Erasmo, it’s important to know the names of these champs: Stefano Barollo, Stefano Borgato, Alex Cesca, Andrea Durante, Raniero De Fusco, Alessandro Greco, Francesco Leocata, and Davide Paulis.

However, you may not have heard of this impressive team of young men, as they play in championships especially for those with Down syndrome.

The match was part of the SUDS European Championships, organized in Padua by Fisdir (Italian Federation of Paralympic Sports for the intellectually-relational), the Aspea society, and the municipality of the city of Padova.

Congratulations all-around!

The president of the Federbasket, Giovanni Petrucci, was quick to congratulate the athletes, as shared by La Repubblica:

The magnificent boys of the Italian National Down Syndrome team are once again European champions. To Fisdir, the national team, the coaches and the boys go the compliments and congratulations of the FIP president, Giovanni Petrucci, and the entire FIP for this prestigious and qualifying result.”

The country’s prime minister, Georgia Meloni, also expressed her delight with her fellow countrymen’s performance, sharing on Twitter:

“A new great success for the Italian national basketball team with Down syndrome. Thank you for taking our Tricolour high again, European champions!”

The team won’t have too much time to relax, as they now have to prepare for further competitions in their league. Hopefully these young sportsmen will continue to go out on to the basketball court and show the world what real champions they are, scoring big against all the obstacles and prejudices they may have faced in life.

Down SyndromeItalySports
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