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All Abilities Basketball Team-Growing bigger and better!

Posted: 21-Apr-2014 by All Abilities

A "Dolphins" player throwing a ball into the basketball hoop
Click on image to see more photos of the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities 'Dolphins' Basketball Team

Last Month, on Monday the 31st of March, the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities basketball team (“The Dolphins”) hosted their first open night event. The team invited individuals with all abilities from the Jewish community to come and try out basketball. The Maccabi Victoria Basketball Club supported this event, and organised for Damian Ryan, ex-Australian ‘Boomer’ basketball player to run the clinic. We were thrilled with the success of this program and hope to have more players sign up throughout the year.

The Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Basketball Program has been successfully running for over 8 years, with a great deal of support shown from the Maccabi Victoria Basketball Club. The Basketball Club President (Mark Garkawe) and Club Vice President (Susannah Swiatlo) should be commended on their ongoing support for the All Abilities cause, by showing great initiative in integrated programs and demonstrating best practice for inclusion in sport. 

The Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Basketball Program has proven to be sustainable in its current form and is now in a position to grow and be developed further, following the appointment of an inaugural ‘All Abilities Inclusion Coordinator’ earlier this year. The coordinator will play a vital role in enhancing the program, by developing new mediums to increase the membership, facilitating greater inclusion and offering more integrated program, working in partnership with the mainstream Basketball Club.

The main objectives of the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Basketball Program are:

  • To expand the range of opportunities available to Jewish people with disabilities to participate in basketball related sport and recreational programs, to enhance their skills, fitness, health and well-being; and
  • To continue to align the mainstream Maccabi Victoria Basketball Club with the All Abilities program and to develop a model of best practice in inclusive and integrated sporting activities and infrastructure

There are three main components of the basketball program:

1. Weekly training sessions

The Maccabi Victoria All Abilities basketball team (“the Dolphins”) currently participates in weekly Monday evening training sessions at Orrong Romanis Recreational Centre. At practice, the Dolphins players participate in drills to hone their skills in basketball, teaming and discipline through the assistance of a head coach and three support workers. These abilities are then realised through active participations in basketball matches.

We are now looking to develop the weekly training sessions through increased participation and support services. This season alone, we have had a 50% increase in registrations with numbers expected to continue to expand through 2014 following the appointment of the All Abilities Inclusion Coordinator. To accommodate for this continued growth, we will require extra equipment, additional training sessions and new coaches/support workers.

2. Weekend Tournaments

Typically once a term, the Dolphins participate in competitive basketball tournaments against other all abilities teams, with the supervision and assistance from the head coach and the three assistants.  Since the appointment of the All Abilities Inclusion Coordinator and the subsequent growth to the Dolphins basketball program, there is now additional opportunity for the Dolphins to participate in more all abilities tournaments. The team has already participated in two tournaments this season, and look forward to more competitive sporting opportunities throughout the year.

3. Integrated Basketball Events

The Dolphin’s team has participated in integrated and inclusive events coordinated by the mainstream Maccabi Victoria Basketball Club such as attending the Seniors ‘Big V’ matches, mentoring and integrated training sessions.


The All Abilities inclusion program will allow Dolphins participants more regular integrated basketball opportunities to interact with the mainstream basketball teams and the wider community. This year, the Dolphins have already had the opportunity to attend:

  • National Basketball League game (inaugural Melbourne Tigers Game Day event) with the mainstream teams; and
  • Training session with ex Australian basketball player (Damian Ryan).

Later in the year, we have plans to strengthen the integrated relationship with the mainstream Seniors ‘Big V’ and Dolphins team with other programs.

Benefits of the program

This activity is supportive of inclusive communities and has a three-dimensional social agenda:

  1. The All Abilities Dolphins players will benefit from enhanced emotional and physical health and well being resulting from participating in fun and inclusive sport and recreational activities, which builds connections between people regardless of age or ability. The program allows the individuals to be valued, accepted, respected and involved with equal access and opportunities as people without disabilities.
  2. The program will also benefit the club’s mainstream players, coaches, volunteers, family and friends by providing these individuals with an opportunity to become members of a richer community that is dedicated to inclusion, tolerance, empathy and acceptance.
  3. Families and carers of the players with disabilities will also benefit through this program as it offers respite, affordable services for their child and provides an opportunity for building connections with others in similar situations. The parents of our Dolphins team meet and consult at our weekly basketball training sessions, inadvertently providing an informal support group.   

The program has been shown to:

  • Enhance physical health and well-being
  • Enhance team spirit, group bonding and provides an opportunity for socialising for a minority group which is often socially isolated
  • Enhance perception and self-awareness
  • Enhance skill set and self-expression 
For more information, please contact:
Lauren Mandel (All Abilities Inclusion Coordinator)
P: 03 9563 5885 | M: 0412 605 480 | E:
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