Paralympians on the Plateau - Norlha Introduces Wheelchair Hoops


Every year, Norlha hosts two international basketball tournaments: a 5-versus-5 event during the Spring, and a 3-versus-3 event (or 3x3) in the Autumn. The latter is a popular basketball style that although played for decades, has only recently received formal international recognition, and will become an official event in the 2020 Olympics. Our 2nd annual 3x3 event coincided with the Ritoma Lhatse, a local festival during which local men honor the mountain god of the Amney Tongra, the highest peak in Ritoma, by offering prayers and their clan's arrows. Last year's tournament included a men's and women's division; this year Norlha was excited to introduce a youth and wheelchair division.

Each clan within Ritoma - Winter Monk, White Horse, Horse Saddle, Golden Rock, Black Water, Cliff Nest - was represented along with a teacher’s team from the local school, two Ritoma all-star teams, two international teams made up of visiting Americans and Australians, Norlha men's and women's teams, and two Ritoma youth teams. Norlha was honored to have 3-time Paralympian Gold Medalist Alana Nichols, presently one of the best wheelchair basketball players in the world, join us to demonstrate wheelchair sports and the power and strength of those with disabilities to the local community.

Norlha teamed up with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Motivation International, ADU Tours, Seattle Adaptive Sports, and Pinnacle Hoops to kick-start it's new wheelchair sports program on the Plateau. Also present was volunteer Cecelia Black who helped organize the event and donated 6 sports wheelchairs. The chairs, sent from England arrived on a three-wheeler from Tso, the nearest town on the second day of the tournament.

They were immediately unpacked and dozens of people came forward to help assemble them. It was Sunday and the children soon grabbed the chairs and zoomed around on the court. Alana put on multiple teaching clinics and Ritoma saw its first wheelchair basketball game, the Americans and Australians versus the local Tibetans. Norlha was also pleased to welcome back former professional player, WNBA coach, and Guinness World Records holder Ashley Graham who has been training the Norlha women's team in preparation for another 3x3 tournament in Hong Kong next week. Combining our love for textiles and Ritoma's passion for basketball, we are proud to use both to promote community, women's empowerment, and disability advocacy.