The Harvey and Gloria Kaylie Rehabilitation Medical Center’s wheelchair basketball team tipped off their acceptance into Israel’s National Competitive Wheelchair Basketball League B with a home game against Shalom Rishon L’Zion.
Presently numbering 10 players, most of the team are medical center rehabilitation patients, some of whom played basketball prior to their injuries. The team’s purple uniforms are a nod to Givati Brigade commander Liron Batito whose mother, Efrat, is undergoing rehabilitation at ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran together with members of the team.
“I was in a car accident about six months ago,” explains 46-year-old player Shani Ben Romano. “I broke my knee, and following surgery I began rehabilitation at this wonderful village. I was introduced to wheelchair basketball and quickly connected to the game. I am still in rehabilitation, and basketball brings new light into my world. I regained feelings of self-worth that took a hit after the accident. Now I go to practice and games instead of being pent up in the house all the time.”
Assaf Mansour, 49-year-old father of two, became ill with a brain stem inflammation and fell into a comma. Unable to move or breath when he woke up, Assaf was hospitalized for more than a year before transferring to the Kaylie Rehabilitation Medical Center at ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran for continued rehabilitation. About a year ago, Assaf was able to join the wheelchair basketball team. “I am happy to be part of the team. Sports plays an important part in rehabilitation of the body and mind. I see this as an important goal for me and the team.”
During their first home game, ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran teammates sporting jersey numbers 10, 7 and 23 took their places at center court with two other teammates holding signs. Together, the five athletes spelled out the message, “We won’t forget October 7.”
Though losing their first game 47-15, the ADI team has a positive attitude towards the future. Avi Wortzman, CEO of ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran cited the benefits of sports. “Physical activity contributes to mental health. Players enjoy feelings of accomplishment and ability. Encouraging patients to turn to competitive sports is one of our higher values. It is an important step in the full integration of people with disabilities. We are here to win.”