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Wheelchair coach hard at work

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Australia’s wheelchair basketball coach Gary Conner during a training session with Cambodia’s national women’s wheelchair basketball team. Photograph: supplied

Australia's wheelchair basketball coach Gary Conner is working at a frenetic pace in melding and welding Cambodia’s first national women’s wheelchair  basketball team, given the short time at his disposal.

He is on a two-week assignment to train 16 probables at the Battambang Centre for Physical Rehabilitation and finalise the national team for upcoming regional and international events.

The 47-year old Conner, who survived a ghastly work site mishap in 1988, has turned that personal tragedy, into an inspirational life story to motivate thousands with disability.

The Battambang project is the brainchild of the Cambodian National Volleyball League Disabled (CNVLD) with Australia-based Disability Sports and Recreation (DSR) lending admirable support by way of raising funds for the program.

Training in the last few days under Conner has been intense and disciplined with the trainees being put through the hoops five hours a day over two sessions, seven days a week.

“The trainees are already highly motivated. Gary has short-listed eight members as good potential which can be moulded. He has also identified four coaches who will receive specialised training.”

Secretary of the CNVLD, Christopher Minko, told the Post yesterday.

“The CNVLD Sports programs are not recreational. They are highly disciplined international standard sports initiatives. The main objective of this project is to establish a national competition and training framework for women’s wheelchair basketball in Cambodia” Minko said.

The Australian Red Cross and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation are also supporting this program from the sidelines.

To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at newsroom@phnompenhpost.com

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