Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wheelchair basketball becoming a lucrative career for South African stars

South African wheelchair basketball star David Curle

The Independent Online reports that "with the Beijing Paralympics looming in September, South Africa's national wheelchair basketball stars are preparing for what could be an opportunity to gain lucrative contracts overseas."

David Curle, (pictured above) star of Team Sasol South Africa and one of the country's few professional players, has played for well-known teams in Spain and Italy, where its league is considered the strongest in the world.

"Initially it was quite difficult because the standard of basketball in Europe is a lot higher than what it is in South Africa," says Curle, who has been a wheelchair user for six years. "But once you get to a certain standard of play, it is possible to earn a good living playing overseas."

Curle says, winning a medal at the Paralympics isn't financially lucrative but it makes him more well-known in the professional wheelchair basketball circles.

"It doesn't matter how many medals you win. You still have to go out there and play the game. You're only as good as your last game," he says.

South African national team coach Viv Sierra says he wouldn't be surprised if more of South Africa's players receive overseas contract offers following the Paralympics.

"The top players go to Europe and make a very good living over there, and there will be a few talent scouts at the Paralympics," he says.