US basketball coach Johnson holds training session for disabled

Johnson to share his experiences especially with people with disabilities

KUWAIT: US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman attends training sessions at the Kuwait Sporting Club for Disabled in Hawally. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: US basketball coach Lawrence Trooper Johnson held a training session at the Kuwait Sporting Club for the Disabled in Hawally. Johnson, a captain of the Golden State Warriors wheelchair basketball team, is a current youth sports program and recreation opportunities coordinator for individuals and people with disabilities and visual impairments. The session was attended by US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman, who thanked the organizers for the successful event and everyone for their cooperation as they hone their basketball skills despite their condition.

“Last month, the world lost the great Kuwaiti humanitarian Moudi Sultan Bin Essa, who spent a lifetime serving the disabled community, supporting education and advocating for social integration for all,” he said. Silverman quoted bin Essa, saying: “Everyone does good and loves what is good.” He said this is a positive way of understanding humanity. “Those qualities, dedication and belief in humanity are what we hope to discover and build upon with the US Department of State Sports Envoy Program,” he said.

Silverman explained athletes and coaches who travel overseas are told to inspire and lead sports programs of all kinds. “They hold sports clinics for athletes of all abilities, participate in community outreach activities and engage youth in conversations on the importance of leadership and respect for diversity,” he added.

Johnson led two national championships and has earned NWBA MVP awards. His main programs include wheelchair basketball, sled hockey, adaptive cycling, power cycling and junior adventure programs. He has been named as the Head Coach for the USA Women’s National Team from 2017 to 2020, leading to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Shafi Al-Hajri, president of Kuwait Disabled Sport Club, said the club’s partnership with the US Embassy in sport, social and cultural domains will contribute to multifaceted development of the club. Hajri said this partnership began when former US President George Bush visited the club in 1995. He also noted that many Americans living in Kuwait exercise in the club.

Johnson said he hopes to share his skills and experiences, especially with people with disabilities. “I met a car accident when I was 17, but even before that, I was very active in sports. After that accident, I went back to sports because it’s a natural thing to do, despite the disability. Basketball is the only team sport that is offered to people with disabilities, so I stuck to it. I ended up in the national team and competed in the US national team for 15 years. I also competed in the Paralympic Games,” he said.

Johnson said since 1981, there have been lots of opportunities for people with disabilities in the United States. He also mentioned that he was impressed with the facilities for people with disabilities in Kuwait and also noticed how fortunate people with disabilities in Kuwait are, not to mention the unwavering support of the government and the community in particular.

By Ben Garcia


This article was published on 12/03/2018