As I prepare to depart for my spring 2013 trip to Afghanistan, I wanted to provide a quick update on my plans for the year. 2013 is shaping up to be the most exciting year yet for my work teaching wheelchair basketball in the developing world and, as always, I’ll be using this blog to pass on entertaining, interesting and inspiring stories of the amazing people I’ll be teaching and working with.

Afghanistan
I’ll be spending the entire months of April and May in Afghanistan working with men’s basketball teams in the cities of Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Maimana, Herat and Jalalabad and women’s teams in Kabul and Mazar. After teaching in a 3-on-3 format last year, we’ll be moving to a standard 5-on-5 structure this year as the teams and players learn more advanced team skills and concepts. The plan is to stage the first national 5-on-5 tournament at the end of the two months for the men and, hopefully, a tournament for the women as well.

I am also hoping to select the first men’s national team for Afghanistan following the tournament, though this will be contingent on working with the new leadership at the Afghan Paralympic Committee, with whom I and the ICRC have not yet met.

I will once again be accompanied for the latter two thirds of the trip by Michael Glowacki, the director of the League of Afghanistan documentary. Michael will be joined at the end of May by a new special assistant – my wonderful wife, Lindy! I couldn’t be more excited to have Lindy join me for the first time in Afghanistan to see the incredible players I’ve been working with over the last several years, as well as meet all the ICRC colleagues who have been so instrumental in helping to making this wheelchair basketball league a reality.

Following this spring trip, I will plan to go back to Afghanistan for a month in the fall to continue the league’s (and hopefully the national team’s) development.

Cambodia

The ICRC has decided to expand the reach of my work with wheelchair basketball beyond Afghanistan for the first time in 2013! I will be traveling to Cambodia for two weeks in July to train three newly formed teams – two women’s and one men’s – in cooperation with a local NGO that has had great success in recent years establishing a disabled volleyball league in the country. This is a fantastic expansion of the work I’ve come to love so much and I can’t wait to meet the players and local staff who have expressed so much excitement about learning the game.

I will be writing regular blog posts while on these trips and will also be using Twitter (@JessMarkt) to keep people updated. Feel free to follow along and comment whenever you feel the urge. Thanks to everyone who has supported this ongoing work – it’s great to have you on board!

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